Business, Culture and Entrepreneurship

Friday, October 31, 2008

Board members you'd rather not have had

When I wrote my first article for Outlook Business, on why a board of advisors is important for start-ups, a couple of folks wrote to me asking about best to handle having a "wrong" board member. Jack and Suzy Welch have discussed this at some length in a BusinessWeek column of theirs.

I decided to added my two-cents to the discussion and the result is my latest article in Outlook Business. Excerpts from the article:

"Anybody can ask questions! When I bring up a problem, it's because I need help. What's the point in just asking questions or giving a lecture without offering any help?" The questions were posed rhetorically, by a good friend who was the VP of Engineering at a technology firm. He had just returned from a Board meeting where he had been called up to present the development status of the company's newest product. "And the Chairman just sat there, not saying a word!" My friend's predicament brought to mind, the question of what is the role of a good board member and as a reader recently posed, "What if you get the “wrong” person on your board?"

Start-ups particularly, and entrepreneurial firms in general, can use the benevolent oversight of an experienced team that a good board of directors can be. If finding the right people for the board is an important task, getting an inappropriate or incompetent member off the board is even tougher. Therefore, one needs to have a clear understanding of who would be a good board member for a company.
Read the rest of the article here.