From several readers of my book it has come to my attention that not everyone reads the Notes at the end of the Book. I have included in the Notes both the references to quotes as well as some additional reflections that, while important, I did not feel contributed to the flow of my Letters. One in particular (Note 31) deals with Boards of Directors and I will reproduce it here as I think it contains some interesting guidelines for Board formation.
“Lessons to keep in mind with boards: (1) Always build a board that is bigger than you need. (2) Strongly opinionated executives with a proven track record are good to have on the board—as long as you have several, and they respect one another. Their opinions will balance and optimize the outcome. The critical factor is not their individual strengths but the composite. (3) Even the board member who at times seems most difficult and “marginal” makes a contribution at the right time. (4) Management of the board requires a strong CEO and a strong chair. Good teamwork between CEO and chair is critical. (5) Follow the key “rule of 3” to attract a board member: First, get the person excited about the vision; second, assure the candidate that association with your company will never tarnish his or her reputation (this assurance is best done by pointing to who else has agreed to serve; and third, be super-respectful of board members’ time. (6) Do not shy away from internal referrals when looking for new board members. High quality attracts high quality. The power of “interlinking” is healthy.”
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RICARDO B. LEVY is an executive and entrepreneur whose career spans more than three decades of founding and building successful businesses. Born and raised in South America to a European immigrant family, he completed engineering studies in the United States at Stanford and Princeton before returning to South America to run a family business. In 1969 he sold the business and returned to the United States to complete his PhD at Stanford in the field of catalytic chemistry. In 1974, after a number of years in the petroleum and petrochemical industry, he cofounded his first entrepreneurial venture, Catalytica, a research and development firm serving the chemical, pharmaceutical, and clean energy industries. The firm’s discoveries resulted in more
than one hundred patents and led to the formation of three companies, one of which became, under Levy’s leadership, the largest supplier to the pharmaceutical industry in North America. Dr. Levy currently serves on public and private corporate boards of directors and the advisory board of the Santa Clara University Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, a global incubator of social entrepreneurs. He is a lecturer at the Stanford University Chemical Engineering Department, where he teaches a course on entrepreneurship and new venture creation. Throughout his life, Dr. Levy has pursued a keen interest in spirituality and personal growth and has continually applied his diverse studies to his roles as a business leader, mentor and teacher.
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One thought on “How to build an excellent Board of Directors”
I totally support this view and wish more boards would be aware of these very important considerations to optimize board dynamics