Bob Mittelstaedt, an entrepreneur and veteran of small-company boards who now serves as vice-dean of the Wharton School, has a tip about how to get the maximum value from boards of directors and advisory boards. He suggests that boards delay discussion of financials until the end of a board meeting. Focusing on numbers "gets people diverted to minutiae," he explains. At the start of a meeting "it drives the discussion down to a level that isn't appropriate, yet it's something I see all the time." Instead, Mittelstaedt suggests you begin each meeting with a conversation about your positioning or changes in the market -- something at "the big-picture level."

Hands On

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