Succession planning does not equal term limits

Examine your board’s practices today and decide which to keep and which to pitch.

At DDJ Myers, we quantify and measure eight best-practice governance categories through a board assessment tool. Our goal is to give boards–as self-governing fiduciary bodies–an easy way to assess performance, leverage strengths, identify gaps and measure progress. Doing an assessment helps boards create a unique-to-them roadmap for development. Boards appreciate this approach.

When boards review these results, the phrase “term limits” inevitably finds its way into the conversation. And more often than not, it’s a sensitive topic. At a recent industry conference, a CEO introduced me to some of his board members, and no joke, right out of the gate, one of them said, “We’re looking forward to working with you, but you need to know there is one topic that is out of bounds: term limits.”

DDJ Myers was not contracted for a governance program with them but rather a strategy conversation. In the countless times our CEO, Deedee Myers, or I have spoken at conferences, we have never asserted that all boards should have term limits. My assessment is that he was revealing his sensitivity to a board succession conversation. Side note: When we did get into multiple strategic sessions with the board, the CEO charged me with a goal, “If you can get the board talking during our session, that’ll be the cherry on top of this engagement.” (I did!)


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