The Bored of Directors
Brad Feld has a great post that is a reprint of an essay he did several years ago called Boards That Aren't Bored. It's a great rundown of the key issues in building and using a board.
It reminds me of the real problems of creating a great board. I've sat on over 30 boards in my years in the venture business and I can count on somewhere between one and two hands the number of boards that have been truly effective. Brad calls them working boards. That's a good name. But I'll call them engaged boards. Because boards that are truly exceptional are interactive, candid, engaged, involved, and passionate about the businesses they support.
I believe you can have a good company without an engaged board. You can even have a good company with a bored board, but its not that common.
But to have a great business, you must have an engaged board.
It takes a lot of work, but the payoff is always worth it.