Board Education, An Important Piece of Board Refreshment

Someone once said, “wisdom must be refreshed.” So true. There’s lots of discussion these days about board refreshment and when directors hear this, they often think, “someone wants to get rid of me.” But wait, board refreshment also includes board education. Although directors learn at every meeting, through reference postings to the board portal and via memos from management; effective boards often have a proactive stance regarding board education. If you haven’t already, I suggest you consider how your board incorporates the following “other” types of education into its routine.

• New director orientation
• In-Board meeting – management reports
• In-Board meeting – advisor presentations
• In-Board meeting – third-party presentations
• Guest speakers at board dinners
• Third party conferences (including online webinars and podcasts)
• Publications
• Membership in an outside governance support organization

There are many benefits of “outside” education sessions. It fulfills the director’s fiduciary duty to be fully informed about company matters and about best practices in corporate governance. It enhances the leadership capability and skills of directors, offers an opportunity to hear fresh, independent perspectives on substantive and governance matters, provides a forum to ask questions in a safe environment, and helps directors overcome specific challenges by introducing processes that assist them in fulfilling their oversight role. Most importantly, learning time outside of board meetings demonstrates responsiveness and accountability to stakeholders and optimizes board effectiveness.