Saturday, January 04, 2020

The Board Reminder

Boards often have a Board Secretary position.

What they need is a Board Historian or, to put it bluntly, a Board Reminder.

The Board Reminder would remind the Board of its earlier actions on various subjects, as in "The motion on the floor was considered and rejected (or adopted) three years ago. The reasons cited for that action were . . . ."

Or "The motion on the floor would assign that responsibility to the Governance Committee. Last year, it was decided that starting next month, that responsibility belongs to the Vice President."

The Board Reminder position recognizes that Boards have short attention spans and that staff members might not leap to remind the Board of past actions or may not even know of them.

Even if  the Board is well-organized and keeps an up-to-date Policy Manual containing all of its policies, it helps to have an individual who is specifically responsible for reminding the Board about past actions.

Since "Board Reminder" doesn't have the right ring, scrap the Board Secretary job and replace it with Board Historian.

You'll thank me for it. 


Miriam said...

Excellent idea! As an attorney who advises boards on policies and procedures, I find this "failure to remember" (as a corporate body) what has happened before is a chronic and common issue. Some boards keep a running summary of all official (voted) actions, and some include the vote (if not unanimous)as part of the summary. Having a person appointed to be responsible for the knowledge and upkeep of the "official action archive" confers due importance to this record, and the designation of "Board Historian" can expand those duties to keeping track of Board Member Rosters and term limits (another common omission), elected officer histories, and other often-missed archival information that is handy (and sometimes important) to have on hand.

Michael Wade said...


As you might guess, I make the recommendation based on painful experiences.

I just ran across a policy that a board had adopted back in 1980. It was later changed, but I suspect the board only has the new policy on hand and no record of the earlier one. A Board Historian could provide the record of such actions.