Ken Davies, President of Alberta Biathlon and Chair of Biathlon Canada, recently shared with me a simple model for board leadership that he uses in the private sector. I immediately thought it could have application in sport, especially as some National Sport Organizations move to more policy-oriented, competency-based boards as part of their transition under the new not-for-profit act.
Ken suggested that corporate boards typically meet four times per year. This is not an uncommon model with sport organizations also. Among many of the boards that he advises as a management consultant, these four meetings each have a distinct topic focus. The four topics are: strategy, operations, risk and budget. The order of the first three is not that important but the budget meeting is usually the last one before the new financial year begins.
The focus on a main topic for the board meeting does not mean that some other necessary business is not conducted at the meeting. The power of this approach is that it encourages full and rich discussion by the board. It is understood by all staff and directors what the meeting focus will be, and all participants are given information well in advance so that they can prepare for the meeting.
In my view this approach is brilliant because it is so simple. It keeps a board clear about its oversight role and discourages the board from meddling in day-to-day details that are outside its purview. Four board meetings a year, each with a singular focus on strategy, operations, risk and budget. I think this is worth trying – any takers??