Reid’s Rituals of Great Boards: the 8 strategic tools used by top companies
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Reid’s Rituals of Great Boards: The 8 strategic tools used by top companies

SWOT

Inspired by Aurora: Leverage your board's superpowers to identify company strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Boards are typically composed of people that have deep expertise, capabilities, and networks that you couldn’t hire into the company. Given that, the big question for any board member should be, “Before I go into the next board meeting, what’s the thing that I can bring that’s most helpful?”
Every board member has a unique superpower
Few exemplify this attitude better than Michael Volpi from Index Ventures. Michael and I serve on the board together. What impresses me with Michael is that, regardless of the situation, he has a deep self-knowledge of his own skills and experience. He knows what he brings to the table, and he focuses his support in those critical areas. When the company encounters an issue that he’s super familiar with, he’ll speak up and say, “Look, you’ve got to take this really seriously, I know this issue really well.” In other scenarios he recognizes he doesn’t have as much experience: “Hey, I’ve got this question but don’t really have an answer. Let me help go find smart people who can help us solve it.”
Like Michael, every board member has a unique set of experiences, skills, strengths, and assets. When combined, these ingredients form a superpower. The best board members develop a sharp self-awareness of their own superpowers. They recognize when to tap into them and, more importantly, know the limits of their expertise.
Michael’s superpower was critical in assisting with Aurora’s of Uber’s self-driving unit in December 2020. Because Michael previously helped build the celebrated M&A practice at Cisco, he’s been through the integration process many times. He’s seen the pitfalls that come with changing the management team. He understands what success looks like post-acquisition. Michael’s guidance during the merger helped make the transaction a success.
A SWOT ritual to leverage your superpower
Now, think of your own experiences, skills, strengths, and assets. How can you leverage your superpower to help the company? Ask yourself, “How am I uniquely positioned to...”
Amplify a company strength?
Catalyze a big opportunity for the company?
Provide support for a company weakness?
Navigate a challenging threat to the company?

Every year, add ideas to the list and review it together as a “” exercise. Focus the discussion on the inconsistencies between the board’s observations and the internal team’s priorities.
Instructions: Each board member adds ideas around the company’s strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats. Then, everyone upvote their favorites and discusses together as a board.
Clear example data
SWOT Brainstorm
0
Search
Strength
Manufacturing capacity
BD
Buck Dubois
facebook-like reaction
MJ
MM
FM
BD
Strong fundamentals
MJ
Mary Jones
facebook-like reaction
MJ
AC
AD
First-mover advantage
PR
Polly Rose
facebook-like reaction
AD
Opportunity
Aggressive paid marketing
FM
Felix Marlin
facebook-like reaction
MJ
AC
AD
Expand into new markets
LF
Lawrence Fitzgerald
facebook-like reaction
PR
LT
Win the simple use case
MJ
Mary Jones
facebook-like reaction
AD
Acquire adjacent technology
AD
Adam Davis
facebook-like reaction
Weakness
Current hiring strategy
BD
Buck Dubois
facebook-like reaction
PR
LT
Tech debt
FM
Felix Marlin
facebook-like reaction
PR
MM
Lack of sales playbook
LF
Lawrence Fitzgerald
facebook-like reaction
BD
Threat
New competitor offering same service
JD
Joel Davis
facebook-like reaction
MJ
AC
AD
Pending lawsuit
PR
Polly Rose
facebook-like reaction
PR
MM
Hostile takeover
AD
Adam Davis
facebook-like reaction

Categories
Search
Type
Ideas
1
Strength
@First-mover advantage
@Strong fundamentals
@Manufacturing capacity
2
Opportunity
@Acquire adjacent technology
@Win the simple use case
@Aggressive paid marketing
@Expand into new markets
3
Weakness
@Current hiring strategy
@Tech debt
@Lack of sales playbook
4
Threat
@Pending lawsuit
@Hostile takeover
@New competitor offering same service
There are no rows in this table

Discussion Notes
Focus your discussion on ideas that are inconsistent with the internal team’s priorities.

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