v Have a thorough understanding of the business issues; this should be more than what is achieved during the rare board meetings.
v Have knowledge of the business, the executives, key staff and customers, so as to understand it beyond board paper summaries.
v Helping the executive board get an external view of the organization just as customers and other stakeholders view it
v Get a thorough understanding of the competitive threats and opportunities of the sector and the company.
v Attending trade fairs or other industry events which are organized by the company or other players in the industry
v Make their own observations, carry out analysis and have a thorough thought about company issues before giving their feedback
Source: Merson (2003)
The above is mainly about the development of a good understanding in order to make a full, positive contribution to the organization beyond the formalities of the boardroom. This onerous task is not meant to take an executive role or lose independence from the executives. Instead it makes independence of action more likely and more informed for the non-executive director.