I recently had a conversation with an Executive Director during a Board Director demo. I asked her how early in advance did she send her board materials to the board.
She said they print and hand out the board packets on the day of the meeting. She places them on the table just before the meeting. This is typical for a lot of nonprofits.
Preparing for board meetings can be very stressful for management. However, giving the board materials on the day of the meeting is a “scientific” mistake. Research has proven that you’re likely going to receive poor value from your directors. Worse, you may get the wrong opinion or decision.
THINKING FAST AND SLOW
In Daniel Kahneman’s groundbreaking book, “Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow”, his research shows how we make decisions and why judgment errors are commonplace. He discovered two distinct systems in our brain that dictate how we think. The machinery of the mind has two systems. “System 1” and “System 2” – the fast and slow decision-making processes.
Brain System 1: This thinking is fast, effortless, and runs automatically. We spend most of our daily lives engaged in System 1 thinking. For example, we use System 1 to drive to work.
System 1 has significant weaknesses. It can make snap judgments, jump to conclusions, and make erroneous decisions based on biases and heuristics—and it cannot be turned off.
Brain System 2: System 2 is used for analysis, problem-solving, and deeper evaluations. Imagine you’re driving to work and there’s a detour. You turn off the music, sit up, and begin to focus.
System 2 is best for problem-solving, and analysis. It turns on to solve a complicated problem. System 2 is more eager to double-check our judgments to prevent mistakes.
PREPARING THE BOARD PACKET
Admins can build their full agenda, and board packet directly inside of Board Director. It’s never been easier to create, manage, and send board packets to users prior to the meeting. You can do it all online. No need to print, collate and mail them out anymore. Plus, we have full control of what users can see. We have added many security features such as watermarks, 2FA, and topic permissions.
SENDING THE BOARD PACKET
So back to the question at hand. When should you send your board packet to your board members? We recommend you share the board packet at least 72 hours before the meeting. Let’s recap.
- In System 1, our brains are lazy and prevent us from using the full power of our intelligence which causes us to make intellectual errors. It can lead to judgment biases, including assigning cause to chance, hindsight bias, and overconfidence.
- When making decisions about your organization, we want directors to leave their emotions at home. We want our board members to activate System 2 Thinking – to deep dive on each topic, digest all of the key points, and prepare thoughtful questions. Your board will make better decisions and are less prone to mistakes.
Thinking, Fast and Slow gives organizations and their boards a useful cognitive framework to run effective board meetings.
Board members can annotate while reviewing their board packets before the board meeting. It will activate System 2 thinking. While in purposeful thinking, they can annotate any topic, page, or data point with a highlighter or pen tool, add notes, draw shapes, write text, and even can sign documents. They’ll be fully prepared for the board meeting with their annotations ready for smarter discussions and better decision making.
Ok, send out those board packets 72 hours prior to board meetings. And, hopefully, with Board Director.