Creating Orientation Materials for a Board Member of Your Company

John Babcock, a partner of Rustic Canyon (, discusses how to create orientation documents for your new board member. Orientation documents set expectations and give resources for a new member so they ease into the company.

  1. Provide a 3-ring binder with specific, detailed, information
  2. Introduce the new board member to critical team positions
  3. Offer them company schwag to help promote the business
  4. Offer talking points to help make them a spokesman

I just – probably, from a dozen different companies I have been on the board of, I’ve seen the materials people put in for a new board member. And they range from doing nothing at all other than sending the board materials to sending a real pack and really creating something that teaches the new board member how to do it. And I’ll tell you, the timing investment spent to do it pays great dividends in terms of – I really do think you want sort of a three-ring binder before the new board member shows up.

And the thing I was thinking of is imagine the time and thought that goes into the briefing box for the President before he’s inaugurated on you know, “Here’s where the aliens are.” Or you know, “Let me make sure you really understand all the issues of Iran.”

And so, you really want that for your company so the person really knows everything about it.

You also really want to have information that shows, “Hey, here’s the board the materials that have been sent for the last three meetings. Here’s the budgets we’ve had before, here’s the minutes. Here’s the directors and authors – directors and offices insurance, the DNO.”

Which you know, is sort of a small thing for you but trust me, it will be an important thing to them also because your outside board members often have meaningful net worth. Having that insured is really important.

Where I have seen it done well is people will go and they’ll set up, you know, with the top six members of the team, 30 minutes in a row – 30 minutes each with your VP of Engineering, your VP of Sales, your Chief Financial Officer, your Head of HR, you know, the CEO himself so that when the new person you know, new board member has questions in the future, they’ve got the card of the VP of Sales and they can ask him directly about it.

And the last thing you really want to do is give them the materials, you know, the baseball cap and the sweatshirt that has the company logo on it. So, when they go out and are seen in industry events, they can fly the flag for you.

And I guess the last part of that is you want to really give them the talking points, so that when they’re talking to potential customers of yours, they can speak eloquently about it.

It takes real time to do that. And for a startup CEO, it’s hard to make an investment but doing those things right really sets an expectation that your company do knows how to get things done, does it professionally and gets it done right.