Board Involvement in Change Projects: Ensuring Engagement

Sections of this topic

    (Part 1 of 2 is Benefits of Involving Board in Projects for Change)

    One of the jobs of the Board is to continuously ensure the high-performance of the organization. Certainly, there can be many perspectives on what “high performance” means, for example, to always satisfy needs of stockholders or stakeholders or to always achieve strategic goals. Any project to accomplish significant change in an organization or in one of its major parts should always include focused attention from the Board. There are numerous ways to ensure a Board is appropriately involved.

    1. Board should be involved in initial planning meetings.

    In projects intended to accomplish significant change in an organization, members of the Board certainly should be aware of – and have approved – the final project plans and related contracts. An appropriate Board member, for example, the Board Chair or a member with skills in the area that is the focus of the project, could participate in the first meeting with personnel leading the change.

    2. Both the Board Chair and the Chief Executive Officer should sign the contract.

    Particularly in small- to medium-sized organizations, the Board Chair should sign the contract along with the Chief Executive Officer. That approach helps ensure that the Board is indeed aware of, and supports, the project.

    3. Educate Board members about at least the basics successful organizational change.

    There is a vast amount of research on what it takes to accomplish successful organizational change. Educate members, for example, provide them a short article, or brief presentation, with follow-up discussion. See the topic Organizational Change in the Free Management Library.

    4. Involve at least one Board member in the Project Team?

    In projects for change, form a Project Team comprised of key personnel to guide development of a project plan and be closely involved in guiding implementation of the plan. Consider involving at least one Board member, for example, a member with skills in the area that is the focus of the project for change.

    5. Ensure Board members get feedback from the assessment phase of the project.

    Early in a major project, there should be assessment activities to closely understand what is going on in the organization or the area that is the focus of the project for change. The assessment can produce a wealth of learning and insight. Present the findings and recommendations to the Project Team. Significant results are important information for all Board members to know about. Provide that information to all Board members, whether in a meeting and/or a written report.

    6. Include Board development in the project if many issues exist in the organization.

    If the assessment activities identify many issues in the organization, then it’s likely that the Board has major problems, as well. Otherwise, the Board would have been effectively governing and the many organizational issues would not have existed. One of the most powerful approaches to addressing major problems in the organization is to build up the Board to help to address those problems.

    7. If there are CEO and/or staffing issues, consider forming a Board Human Resources Committee.

    A Board Human Resources Committee is responsible to ensure that staffing (including the CEO) is carefully planned and fully utilized. That includes providing ongoing coaching to the CEO to ensure that his or her role is competently filled. The Committee can be of tremendous value to the project to coach the CEO through the struggles of making major changes.

    8. All Board members should be copied on project reports.

    All Board members have a responsibility to govern the organization. All Board members should have access to the necessary information to do their jobs. Consequently, they should be copied on reports about the status of major projects.

    9. The Board should formally approve the Change Management Plan.

    The assessment phase of a project should be followed with various action plans to address apparent issues or achieve goals. Those plans could be included in an overall Change Management Plan. Formal approval of the Plan by the Board can help to ensure that Board members have seen and will support the Plan.

    10. An appropriate Board Committee could “police” implementation of action plans.

    The full Board or an appropriate committee should monitor to ensure that the Change Management Plan is being implemented or changed to be more relevant and realistic, for example, the Board Executive Committee.

    11. Board members should be review results of evaluations of the project.

    Finally, the Board should ensure that the project actually addresses the issues and/or goals that are the focus of the project. They should regularly review results of evaluations of project activities as those activities occur. Also, they should review results of evaluations of the quality of final results from the project.

    What do you think?

    For many related, free online resources, see the Free Management Library’s topics:


    Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD – Authenticity Consulting, LLC – 800-971-2250
    Read my blogs: Boards, Consulting and OD, and Strategic Planning.