Fifteen years ago there were few electronic devices to distract participants in board meetings. Today we are surrounded by smartphones, tablets and laptops - busy people want to keep connected to their emails, blogs and Twitter accounts.
This is having a significant impact on the quality of board meetings and the ability of the board to work as a high-performing team. It is simply not possible to concentrate on complex strategic issues, be acutely aware of people's feelings and body language and simultaneously read tweets or respond to emails.
It is also disrespectful to other participants. They notice when people 'check out of' the meeting because they consider other business to be more important. So I start meetings by asking participants to turn off all electronic devices unless they are specifically referring to papers for that meeting.
We have to recognise that people are expected to work in real time. But in my experience the best board meetings are those in which everyone is fully aware of the impact of their own behaviour on the rest of the group and attention is focused on delivering excellent governance.