Category Archives: Executive Reviews

Posts in this category present content related to Executive Reviews of operating activities (businesses, initiatives, functions, units, accounts, etc.).

The Secret to Creating a Productive Private Company Board of Directors

Successful, fast-growing private companies often struggle with how to set up and operate a high-functioning board of directors. What tends to evolve is a group of well-intentioned people that meet every few months for a couple of days to learn about all the great things the company is doing instead of having a crisp discussion about how the company is performing relative to its board-approved plan and how it is progressing on that year’s strategic initiatives.

While it’s important for fast-growing successful privately-owned company corporate boards to have a diverse board of directors that includes outside directors who can provide an objective perspective and help ensure that the board is not dominated by family members, establish clear governance policies and procedures that outline the roles and responsibilities of board members, and have regular board meetings that are well-organized and focused on the company’s strategic goals, there are also some best practices that can help maximize the value of the board’s meeting time.

In this post, we will share some of these best practices and provide a template for an effective board agenda.

The Board Agenda

The board agenda is the key tool for ensuring that the board meeting is productive and efficient. The board chair should send out the agenda four to five days before the meeting with a request for any additions, deletions or corrections. The agenda should be clear, concise, and relevant, and should focus on the company’s performance relative to the board-approved plan, progress towards achieving strategic goals and objectives, and any urgent issues.

A well-formulated agenda should also follow these guidelines:

  • Meetings should be three hours or less. Longer meetings tend to lose focus and energy, and shorter meetings may not allow enough time for meaningful discussion.
  • No big decisions should be made on new items in the meeting in which they are first introduced. New items should be presented for information only, and then discussed and decided in the next meeting after board members have had time to review and reflect on them.
  • Advance material should be made available about two days in advance of meeting for all topics. This allows board members to prepare for the meeting and avoid wasting time on presentations that could have been read beforehand.
  • Allow some time before and / or after the meeting for personal interaction and socializing. This helps build trust and rapport among board members, which can improve communication and collaboration during the meeting.
  • Record Action Items, Decisions, and Insights as they occur in the meeting. The CEO edits and distributes the record a day or two after meeting for review, comment, and the record.

The Board Agenda Template

Here is a board agenda template that follows the best practices mentioned above:

  • 10-min: Call to order and administrative matters (approve minutes from last meeting, bylaw updates, etc.)
  • 15-min: CEO overall summary report on the State of the Business
  • 20-min: Discussion of financial performance relative to plan
  • 20–40-min: updates and discussion on each of up to three of the most important strategic initiatives and / or committee reports.
  • 10-20-min: Walk-on items
  • 5-20-min: Discussion of topics for upcoming meetings
  • 5-min: Adjourn and remind about next meeting date and location

This template provides a general framework for ensuring that the board meeting covers the most important topics in a timely and effective manner. Ir can be adapted to suit the specific needs and preferences of any board.


Setting up and running a high-functioning board of directors for fast-growing private companies can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. By following some best practices for creating and executing a board agenda, boards can ensure that they are providing valuable guidance and oversight to the company, while also fostering a positive and productive relationship with the management team.


 About The Author

David Halwig, IntelliVen Co-Founder and President of Mid-Atlantic Region, provides strategic management consulting and advisory services to leaders whose organizations are at critical inflection points. David helps improve governance, leader development, strategic planning, and risk management. He also has substantial experience with merger and acquisition strategies, valuation, and transition approaches.  

Connect with David on LinkedIn

How to Make Meetings Powerful Using a Pen

There really is “power in the pen“.  The person who takes notes in a meeting and then drafts and distributes the Meeting Record is demonstrating leadership. Deciding how what happened in a meeting is to be memorialized is a power move. Those who want to be leaders and who want to be powerful will find that owning and driving the process to produce Meeting Records is the way to go! Continue reading How to Make Meetings Powerful Using a Pen

How to head off unwanted voluntary attrition and what to do when it happens.

Exit Interview Form Icon - unwanted voluntary attritionWhen an employee departs voluntarily it is almost always unanticipated and unwanted. Too often, though, leaders rationalize that employees who leave voluntarily were marginal and will not be missed.

To keep the best on board, and to head off after-the-fact rationalizations, ask managers now to identify employees they would least like to lose. Go on to also ask what is being done to keep each and every one of them engaged and on track to success in the organization. Follow up to make sure what needs to be done is actually done.

When any employee leaves of their own choosing, assign a senior person with no stake in the case to speak with the departed. Use the survey questions in the form linked to the above graphic to draw out what happened, why s/he has decided to leave, and to be sure whatever needs to be unearthed and learned is brought to light. Continue reading How to head off unwanted voluntary attrition and what to do when it happens.

How CEO’s should use Accountability Boards and Subject Matter Experts to help their organization perform and grow.

How to set up and use accountability boards.

Every leader stands to benefit from the opportunity to regularly review with outsiders what s/he seeks to do, what has been done to do it, what has happened and what has been learned so far, and what s/he plans to do next.

It is harder to set up, operate, and benefit from outside help than it may first appear. Click the featured image above for a slide presentation of lessons learned and best practices that, if followed, will lead to improved performance and growth thanks to help from Accountability Board Members and Subject Matter Experts.

Eight Reasons Executive Review Meetings Underperform

The main reason things go wrong  is lack of management attention. Hence the importance of Executive Review Meetings! However, management reviews can also go wrong.  Here are eight common reasons why they often do:

# 8. The leaders did not prepare, so the meeting becomes the preparation and the review never materializes.

# 7. Too much time spent on history, story telling, and showboating. It is up to the leaders to be sure that whatever is really important gets covered.

# 6. The leaders talk right up to the end of the meeting and never created a space for the reviewers to ask questions, clarify, challenge, and then offer their best thinking.

# 5. Top management fails to create a safe environment thus turning the review into a sham (a.k.a. dog-and-pony show).

# 4. Management fails to really pay attention to see what needs to be seen and to deal with what needs to be dealt with rather than seeing what they want or hope to see.

# 3. Management fails to generalize what is learned to incorporate and reuse elsewhere

# 2. Management discovers during the review that things are in much worse shape than expected and, without intention, makes the management team feel inept by piling on and trying to help too much in the moment.

# 1. The number one reason why these meetings don’t go well is that the most important reviewers fail to show up due to last minute crises or they show up physically but not mentally.