Managing A Board Is An Art Not A Science

One of the hardest things an entrepreneur needs to learn is how to manage a board effectively. It’s not something that is taught in any school.  It only comes with experience, and if the entrepreneur is lucky, he/she has a kind and patient mentor (or maybe chairperson) who already developed the art and is willing to work with him/her on developing their own style. 

One of the challenges I see with early-stage entrepreneurs is they don’t see this as their day job. They are too busy wearing the many hats they must wear to get the business from startup to scale up. But if they take outside funding, managing the board is most certainly one of the CEO’s most important “day jobs.” Moreover, if they want to benefit from the knowledge and experience a well-crafted board can offer, they must get it right

RA Capital (in my opinion one of the most forward-thinking and fact-based investors I have ever seen) recently published something they call SABER for Strategic Alignment: Board+ Executive Resources. Specifically, they have a self-explanatory, 250+ slide deck that covers: building an effective pre-read, what to do at the board meeting, and after the board meeting – 17 specific areas of best practices. They say that if you adopt the guide, you will “enjoy shorter prep time, greater board engagement, shorter board meetings, a clear vision of how much to raise and when (with a longer time horizon), and better-deliberated decisions.”  It’s a big claim for sure, but given Its track record of success, RA Capital has some great expertise to share.

The Elephant Slide is one of the most important concepts I have ever seen when it comes to keeping continuity between board meetings and ensuring each board meeting is focused on the most important topics.  If you do nothing else, read it, understand it and incorporate it into your board communications plan (if you already have OKR’s or measure what matters, you are already on the right path). 

While RA Capital invests in biotech companies and SABER is specially geared to venture-backed biotech, I certainly think every founder/CEO who has a board and wants to learn to maximize the value they can receive from it would benefit.  I know I would have liked to have had the elephant slide as a starting point for every board meeting. 

See the full deck here:

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