We continue our board package series with perhaps the most important section of any meeting and package: the CEO executive summary. Again, Chris takes us through his thoughts.
In my humble opinion, this section of a board package is really where the rubber meets the road. Think of this section as part state of the union address (i.e. a top level review of what key activities are going on at your company), part post-game analysis (i.e. an analysis of what’s going well and what’s not going well), and part Socratic lesson (i.e. posing the probing questions about your business).
Typically this section is what sets the tone as well as the topics for substantive discussion at your upcoming board meeting. Some questions that should be asked (and answered or theorized) in this section might include:
- What’s going well in the business and what recent successes should be celebrated? What are the implications of those successes for the business?
- What’s not working in the business and what recent failures should the business learn from? What will the impact(s) be to the business as a result of those challenges?
- What changes (in your business, your market, your competitors, etc.) are on the horizon that could bode well (or poorly) for your success?
- Where are you (the CEO) and the rest of the executive team focusing your efforts going forward? If those areas represent a change in priorities, why change?
- What keeps you awake at night (either because of the excitement of the opportunity or the fear of the challenge)?
- Where do you need the board’s input and assistance?
Recognize that there likely won’t be (and probably shouldn’t be) nice, pat answers to everything that is raised in this section. In order to be most effective, this section needs to be an open and honest “discussion” that can expose your business’ vulnerabilities but in turn presents an opportunity for the board to be most effective in asking the tough questions, challenging your assumptions, and giving you useful advice/feedback.
CEO’s that really know their business also know what they need from their board and how their board can help them. Asking your board questions is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of security and depending upon the questions, a sign that the CEO really knows what’s going on.