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Board Development Tool

The NHS Board Development Tool (BDT)

This well proven tool, the first of its kind developed for the NHS, has been used by more than 300 NHS organisations. The Board Development Tool challenges boards to consider how they operate as a corporate entity and, in so doing, enhances their effectiveness as a board.  The BDT is a facilitated diagnostic which enables boards to think laterally and externally, and provides a base from which to embark on development.

The aim of the BDT
The BDT aims to provide a framework for reviewing and improving NHS board performance. Regularly reviewing and evaluating board performance is an example of best practice governance for any board – and the BDT can support Foundation Trusts as part of their governance requirement to evaluate Board performance.  The BDT is designed to support any NHS organisation’s board to achieve this, from commissioners to providers – and now there’s a new version designed to meet Foundation Trust boards’ governance needs: BDT for Foundation Trusts BDT for Foundation Trusts (375.72 KB)

NEW FOR 2010/11: the Board Development Tool for Foundation Trusts

Building on the success of the Board Development Tool, and working in consultation with a range of stakeholders and NHS organisations, the NHS Institute has developed a Tool specifically for Foundation Trusts. This Foundation Trust BDT uses a new model to establish board effectiveness, focussing on three core tasks and the key enablers needed to perform them. In addition, this BDT adds an external perspective, and covers engaging with staff and governors.

Foundation Trust Board Effectivenessl Model 

The Board Development Tool for Commissioners has also seen further development. Focussing on five core skills – engagement with strategic stakeholders, defining strategic intent, holding to account, board dynamics and board leadership – it now has an optional external engagement element, incorporating interviews with stakeholders.

More information on the Foundation Trust BDT can be found here: The BDT for Foundation Trusts The BDT for Foundation Trusts (375.72 KB)


How it works

Whichever version of the BDT suits your organisation, it will review the performance of your board to highlight strengths and identify potential areas for development. It starts with an objective assessment of board members’ perceptions of their board’s performance. The BDT is focused on developmental outcomes.  All findings and outcomes are confidential, led by the Chair and owned by the whole board.

The BDT is continually reviewed and updated to meet the needs of a changing NHS.

Benefits to your organisation

The Board Development Tool delivers the following benefits to your board:

  • Enables you to undertake an objective assessment of your board’s current performance and to identify areas of strength and further development
  • Leads to an action plan for improvement and provides an opportunity to take action.
  • Helps to create a shared vision across the board of what a high performing NHS board looks and feels like, and enables comparison of your board’s current performance with that vision
  • Presents a tried and tested model for high NHS board performance covering good governance, best practice and board dynamics
  • Captures and presents the different perspectives of the various types of board member (Executives & Non-Executives)
  • Provides expert support as you go through the process from two of our experienced Facilitators
  • Engages you in a continuous process for monitoring your board’s results year-on-year
  • Links you into a network of support and resources designed specifically to drive NHS board performance improvement, including Executive Coaching
You can review the recent independent evaluation of our Board Development Tool, carried out by Price Waterhouse Coopers: Evaluation of the Board Development Tool 2010 Evaluation of the Board Development Tool 2010 (159.27 KB).
How long does the process take?

We know from our experience to date that it takes approximately ten to twelve weeks, but this can be adjusted to meet your needs and commitments.

The cost of the BDT to your organisation depends on the package that you select. Please email the Board Development team for further information.

Further information
For further information please email the Board Development team at the NHS Institute or telephone 0845 862 0036.