In many companies including some large ones, Board members risk do not use or, underuse the strongest tool for strategy realization of any company – management of project & program portfolio.
Risk of being not re-elected as Board member by Supervisory Board for the next term and potentially getting the company in troubles. Board members are responsible for strategy realization of the company. The most important part of strategy is about changes and the biggest changes are performed via projects or, programs (cluster of projects which brings additional benefits via synergies) to increase the competitiveness of their company. None company in the world has enough human and technical resources to perform all intended projects & programs “P & P“ in parallel. This has to be done via P &P portfolio management (including – sometimes – very hard decisions). Handing over the strongest tool for the strategy realization to their subordinates with less power and (usually) less experience is dangerous for the future of Board members and for the company success, too.
Boards of successful companies usually manage portfolio of P &P regularly – monthly (or, quarterly, if the company has 10k+ employees). Correctly setting priorities (and changing them, if needed) of P & P for the usage of resources (human, technical) helps lower ranks to do efficient resource management. Making proper decisions regarding portfolio risks (even stopping particular project(s) in case of extreme risk) helps company to pass through hard times successfully compared to competitors. Being flexible when business opportunity (or, new legislation) comes is much easier if their most important managers are present, so the form of extended Board session is very effective (in person or, via web communicator). We can name it Portfolio Committee for short. Usual first step - after getting Board buy-in - is to include into the portfolio IT P & P and respective resource management (first - specialists with scarce know-how, IT environments for development and testing, controlled updates of IT systems), so IT manager (CIO) should be a member of Portfolio Committee. If you aim to introduce new product, created by project/program, you would need to have trained human resources in place (sell, service, claims,...) and to ensure that the new product would be successful you need to have some place in relevant media and events (electronic, printed, trade fairs,...), so managers of HR and Marketing would be helpful members of Portfolio Committee. We should not forget about Portfolio Coordinator – best under CEO due to the importance of the agenda. Portfolio Coordinator should be also minutes keeper to be clear about the decisions including subsequent control of their fulfillment. Beware the right size - above certain threshold (usually 9 people) the efficiency of such sessions goes down. So, how to? Start small, make regular amendments, get more mature step by step by using best practice and customize them to your situation and business environment – you will be positively surprised by the results when your re-election time would approach (if done properly, of course ;-).