By James E. Orlikoff
To maintain the momentum of continuous governance improvement, many "best practices" boards institute regular mini-evaluations of board meetings. Here, each board meeting concludes with every board member anonymously completing a brief evaluation form of how the board planned for and used its time during the meeting. In this process, each board member briefly answers questions designed to give a quick assessment of the meeting.
The results are then compiled and analyzed to fine tune future board meetings. The compilation and analysis of the post board meeting evaluation forms can be done by the Governance Committee, the Executive Committee, or by the board chair and the CEO. The aggregate results of the board meeting evaluation should be presented to the full board at its next meeting, along with the proposed changes in the board meeting (if any) in response to the previous aggregate evaluations.
Following are several questions that could be used for a post board meeting "mini" evaluation. Each individual board (or the committee assigned this task) should review these questions and choose the ones that are most comfortable and relevant to that specific board, in addition to developing other, more specific questions. For maximum effectiveness, the evaluation form should contain both quantitative (check one, multiple choice) questions as well as qualitative (open-ended questions that require a written response). The evaluation should take no more than five minutes at the most for each board member to complete.
Either the board chair, the CEO, or the chair of the Governance Committee should introduce the concept of the post board meeting "mini" evaluation prior to distributing the first evaluation form at the conclusion of a board meeting. During this introduction, it should be emphasized that the responses are confidential and board members are not asked to put their names on their completed forms.