Trewstar Corporate Board Services

Cycling Through a Board Search

June 01, 2023

June 1, 2023         

Dear Friends of Trewstar:
Thank you so much for your ongoing support of TrewNews. We have received wonderful feedback on our short and hopefully entertaining newsletters. Our goal is to combine advice and insights about what matters to board members while building our Trewstar brand. 
Last week, I bicycled in France along La Velo Francette, a 375-mile route from Ouisterham (English Channel) to La Rochelle (Atlantic Ocean). My optimistic husband assured me this was such an easy trip that he and our two cycling companions could handle all the logistics without the aid of a local guide.
As often happens, reality differed from these glossy expectations. I longed for Henri, my imaginary French guide with a white van, ready to help us at a moment’s notice. Someone who would be at the bottom of a very long uphill road in the middle of Calvados farming country ready to put the bike in the back and drive me to lunch. Or he would appear in my mind when French construction workers refused to let us cross a small bridge they were rebuilding even though it seemed to be the only path forward. When our friend was bitten by a small dog, I kept wishing that Henri would magically appear with antiseptic and band-aids.

As I biked along, trying to distract myself from the lack of Henri in my life, I could not help but draw parallels between our increasingly chaotic DIY bike trip and similarly turbulent excursions boards take when they decide to conduct a board search without our help.

Trials with the Networks. Many boards understandably believe they have an extensive network—or can use online resources to access all the candidates they need. That’s tantamount to confidently starting on the bike trip with nothing but a single, and possibly outdated, map from the French biking association. Many times, even Google maps could not come to the rescue. Boards and cyclists need an expert to evaluate and guide them towards the best alternatives.

The Proverbial Roadblocks. Cows, construction workers, a candidate who says, "no thank you," at the end of a long process can each be daunting in their own way. What should one do to find help? Maybe most importantly for the senior board member leading a search on her/his own, suddenly what seemed manageable, and even fun, is now very time consuming with an uncertain outcome.
Scheduling. After a long day of biking, one of us had to figure out where we were going to eat, get directions, find transportation when few choices were available, etc. It made me think of all the behind-the-scenes scheduling effort required to execute a successful board search. Our associates spend considerable time deftly arranging candidate interviews and debrief calls after the interviews. They remain available for the many meetings that must be rescheduled due to last-minute changes. Do you have someone ready to step away from his or her day job to schedule all the meetings? 
Last-Mile Logistics. We loaded, unloaded, and secured bikes on the car, every day, twice. While it was possible to develop a smooth routine on a bicycle trip, in contrast last-mile board search problems don't follow a pattern—what do you do about a negative reference? Or board date conflicts that weren’t checked at the start? Or one board member who questions the skill set requirements that seemed to have been agreed upon in the beginning?  

We said goodbye to the gorgeous French countryside and traveled under the English Channel back to London in a train that carries cars. Our daily troubles were temporary; I had almost forgotten about Henri. Troubles with a board search are not so simple. Adding the wrong person to a board is a misery that can go on for years.

Yes, some DIY director searches go well, but why don’t you let us do the work and you go for a bike ride?

Best Regards,