The Value of Institutional Memory in the Boardroom

computersEvery organization has crucial information that is needed to keep it up and running—but how can you protect that valuable knowledge?

Centralized institutional memory helps improve board member and employee onboarding, and overall organization quality and productivity.

Read on for the essential reasons your board needs to systematize its institutional memory.

1. Improve Board Member Onboarding

    People come and go—but valuable information doesn’t have to leave with them. With easy access to your organization’s institutional memory, board members can better translate historical data and experiences into useful knowledge and action.

    Systemized institutional memory also helps maintain board traditions and culture, such as group values, chemistry among members and staff, tone of meetings and more. Documenting these typically “unwritten” rules keeps the overall feel of the organization in tact as new members are added.

    Proactively plan for knowledge transfer in advance of board members or employees leaving to keep your organization successful. Document processes, routines, useful knowledge and other essential dynamics for easy new member onboarding.

     2. Centralized Board Materials

    One of the most convenient benefits of an institutional memory system is that critical information can be accessed in one place. Board members will no longer waste time searching for files or organizational details.

    Use an online board portal to share files and data easily throughout your organization, and keep board members up-to-date on projects and meetings. Centralize and keep track of important information such as:

    • Board member bios, expertise and connections.
    • Committee members and updates.
    • Meeting agendas, minutes and motions.
    • Organization mission, facts and FAQs.

    3. Increase Productivity

      Centralized information also allows board members to evaluate important terms, procedures, historical information and more to improve their productivity levels.

      Understand what has and has not worked in the past to make smarter decisions for the future. If a previous board discussed a topic, you’ll have reference of what was said and why decisions were made a particular way. The sitting board can use that knowledge to better inform actions. If an alternate approach is recommended, it can be done with full knowledge of the organization’s history and past debates.

      In addition, don’t spend unnecessary time trying to figure out a task that someone may already know how to do! When institutional memory is easily accessible, boards have the resources to dig deeper into a process or situation, and better collaborate as a team.

      For a look at board management trends, read our 2014 Board Engagement Report.

         2014 Board Report 

      How would your board members benefit from shared institutional memory? Let us know in the comments below.

       Image Source: Sarah Marriage