May 2012
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Month May 2012

Board governance questions

When involved on (or working with) for-profit and non-profit boards, start by asking these key questions. Everything else emanates from here…

Board Governance:

  • Do you have the optimum committee structure?
  • Do you have the right set of skills and experience on each Committee to maximize effectiveness and ensure strong governance?
  • Are your directors receiving the right information at the right time in the right way from the right sources?
  • Are meetings scheduled so as to best meet the mission of the Board?
  • Is the appropriate work happening in your committees and between your committees, with full transparency with the full Board?
  • Do you have a robust, rigorous and systematic process for evaluating the CEO? The Lead Director? The Committees? The Full Board? Each Director?

Performance management continued…

Some measurement frameworks (e.g., what other companies are measuring), and some key beginning questions executives must answer:

  1. Are we satisfying our customers?
  2. Are we satisfying our shareholders?
  3. Are we satisfying our stakeholders?
  4. What is happening to our customer base?
  5. Is our company strategy working?
  6. Are our individual strategies thereto being properly executed?
  7. Are we serving our customers and stakeholders effectively?
  8. Are we operating efficiently?
  9. Are our stakeholders contributing what they should?
  10. Are we developing the abilities we need to execute our strategies?

Start with the above to chart/find the path to business success. Axis is available to elaborate on the finer points, as this list is just offered as an overview…

Performance management

A KPI [Key Performance Indicator] starting point: Recent management philosophy has pointed to the realization of the importance of customer focus and customer satisfaction [in any business]. Both are leading indicators…, as: if customers are not satisfied, they will eventually find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Therefore, poor performance on these key baseline metrics is a leading indicator of future decline, even if the current financial picture looks favorable/good.

And remember: “What gets measured gets done.”

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Poor fortunes—some common themes…

Re: “poor fortunes:”

  1. Managements often fail to appreciate the size of the challenges they face.
  2. Competition is fiercer than expected and markets change.
  3. Further complicating matters are investors who often want results more quickly than companies can deliver.
  4. The line between success and failure is a thin one.

A sample staff meeting template w/ protocols, purpose, etc.

This is the template that I have used for several years—I have scrubbed it and made it generic for this post:

XYZ’S WEEKLY STAFF MEETINGS [w/ DIRECT REPORTS]

Why weekly?

  • Want firsthand update on the business
  • Business conditions warrant it
  • Assure alignment
  • Share what’s going on so you can do your job and gain full executive communication

Attendance required; on time; no substitution without prior XYZ approval

Weekly, Monday @ 10:00 a.m. to noon; can/will be extended as needed

Agenda

  • Suggested items and requested time needed to ABC (Finance guy or CFO) by Wednesday preceding the meeting… indicate if significant action/decision desired at meeting
  • Agenda reviewed by XYZ and issued by Thursday

Confidentiality

  • No gossip
  • Reinforce with your assistants and others

Decision process

  • Consensus—all views heard
  • Final decision by XYZ as needed

Behavior

  • Pay attention; no sidebar conversations or secondary tasks… really listen
  • Stick to subject
  • Openness
  • Pre-work; prepared when/as needed
  • Jokes, fun—OK

Once-around-the-table-process

  • Limited to three (3) minutes each—no borrowing
  • Items requiring more time to be on agenda

Focus: Discuss our financial performance v. plan, sales results, and the big “move-the-needle” projects/plans for the business.

Other: Weekly 8 ½” x 11” on key events/issues [from non-direct reports]. Everything must be “actionable.” Set and monitor quarterly priorities [feedback].