What are some strategies in managing a board so that you optimize the value you gain from them while minimizing interruption into your personal or the companies time?
Guy Kawasaki's book "Reality Check" http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1591842239/guykawasakico-20 has excellent advice regarding dealing with boards.
Around the board meeting, some of his advice (that I would say applies to just dealing with your board members anytime):
A good board is there to help you succeed.
Best of luck!
Find investors who are good board members is the first and most important step here. Most investors have their own style of board involvement and it will be an uphill battle to get them to change it.
Talk to other companies who have this person on their board, and follow all of your reference checking best practices to get to the truth.
Look for investors whose motto is "do no harm."
Once you've found potential board members you like, set clear expectations with them before you commit to working together.
Once you are in a relationship, you can use various passive aggressive or overt techniques. Most of it boils down to relationship skills like (a) good communication, (b) being coachable, (c) knowing what you want/need, etc.
I have not read the book but Guy's advice in the 1st answer is correct. Don't BS them - they can smell it. If they can't trust you, you're toast.
You do have to manage expectations. Don't overpromise. Keep them updated regularly.
The big thing is that boards need to be in love with the CEO / leader. You must be in firm control of the company or they will worry about your leadership. It also helps if you are in some way irreplacable (think Steve Jobs).
I have seen studies on startups where "nice" leaders who spend lots of time communicating with their board underperform leaders who don't bother with it and just do what they want.
You will not win as a company if you spend a lot of time doing things other than making your product better and getting it in market. So, while you need to keep the board up to date, it should not take up big amounts of time.
Make sure that the objectives for the business are clearly understood by the board members. Ask "why" and be prepared to say "no". It's easier to say No first and then Yes later when the situation is clear instea dof the other way. As your other contributors have said, cut the BS and be honest. You will develop credibility and respect by doing this.
Hope that helps?