Boards oversee the strategic direction of their organizations, and technology can have a big impact on that. This means board members may want to brush up on all the latest technologies, but that’s not necessary. Instead, the key information you need board members to understand is how any proposed technology initiative will further the association’s strategic goals.
“Technology literacy isn’t so much about, do they need to know what an LMS or an AMS is?” said Garth Jordan, CEO of the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). “Maybe it would be a little helpful, but that is such a minor part of the journey. To me, that literacy is, how does the technology plan fit and support the execution of your strategic plan? And if they can’t speak to that or understand that, you’re not going to get board support for large-scale projects.”
Gretchen Steenstra, a strategic consultant at DelCor Technology Solutions, said board members typically only need to know the basics. “I think they need to know enough to have a working knowledge and an educated conversation,” she said, adding that staff need to know minutiae and boards should have the big picture.
To Jordan, sharing too much detail makes poor use of a board member’s limited time. “One of the challenges is not getting your board too deep in the weeds on any given topic because that’s not what they’re there for,” he said. “They’re there for the strategic guidance of the organization and for the fiduciary responsibilities. They’re not there to develop your technology plan.”