The Case for Routine Maintenance

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Every year, I have my annual physical at the worst time of the year—right after the holiday season and the Super Bowl. And right before I step on the scale, I make sure to empty my pockets and take off my shoes and watch to shred every ounce of extra weight so the true result won’t hurt so badly. While it’s not usually the time of my peak health, I make sure to schedule my physical every year at the same time so I can stay on top of potential health issues.

Much like with our bodies, our boardrooms can benefit from the same type of comprehensive, annual examination.

Just like our bodies can get sick, our boards can also struggle without attentive care to their needs, and it’s important to have independent experts who can conduct a thorough review of board performance. Directors should make it a priority to ensure that their boards are getting the proper maintenance and their fellow directors are providing the highest quality of service to their peers and to the company they’re overseeing.

Conducting routine board maintenance—aka a board “exam” —is an important step toward long-term boardroom health, and an independent third party is often well-positioned to prescribe strategies to bring boards up to par.  Healthy boards enable directors to fire on all cylinders with management, which ensures peak performance company-wide.

NACD’s Board Advisory Services is an example of an independent third party that is well-positioned to confidentially conduct board maintenance—with the expertise, confidentiality and analytically driven insights and knowledge to identify a board’s strengths and potential vulnerabilities. We know how to make the tough calls and provide the best strategic advice to strengthen boardroom performance—both as a cohesive whole and as a collection of individual directors. And we have the essential tools to dive deep into the issues today’s boards face—expert facilitators and the ability to analyze every board and director from a neutral standpoint.

In addition to independence, it’s important that any party evaluating your board be thorough and administer the right tests. Through personal interviews, as well as qualitative and quantitative evaluations, NACD can gather the necessary information, consolidate the data and look for key themes. By collaboratively establishing a talent matrix based on the current and future composition of your board, we can highlight the individual skills and attributes of board members and help identify the areas you should consider for effective succession planning. This quality, independent analysis is essential to a board looking to function at maximum efficiency.

Like your annual physical, a regular check up is a useful exercise to help your board prepare for a prosperous future, and the importance of using an independent third party to conduct recurring board maintenance cannot be overstated.

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