The pursuit of high board performance
Plans and preparations for my next set of international commitments are coming together well. I'll be on the road for two-thirds of November to fulfil five speaking engagements; attend two conferences; lead a one-day learning workshop; fulfil two advisory commitments; and, attend a miscellany of meetings. The key dates are:
A common theme runs through these commitments: the pursuit of high board performance.
The talks will explore several aspects of board practice including the board's role in strategy; emerging trends; the mechanism of corporate governance; and, the defining characteristics of an effective director and board. The learning workshop (entitled The effective director) is part of the Governance Institute of Australia's new capability development programme. The conferences are the European Institute of Advanced Studies in Management, in Brussels (I'm presenting a paper), and the Global Peter Drucker Forum, in Vienna.
In case you are wondering, there are still a few gaps in the schedule in each location for additional meetings. Please contact me if you would like to arrange a meeting while I'm in your area.
If you'd like to know more about any of contributions, please get in touch. (Note: As is my normal practice, conference summaries will be posted on this blog soon after each event, so do check back if you are interested).
Bob Tricker just did it again.
Long the doyen of corporate governance (Sir Adrian Cadbury used the term "father of corporate governance"), Tricker has just posted this article, a stinging critique of several emergent ideas that, through repetitive use, have permeated thinking and are becoming accepted as conventional wisdom. Risk, culture and diversity are singled out as populist memes. Yet robust evidence to support the notion that any of these memes are directly contributory to effective governance—let alone company performance—in any predictable manner is yet to emerge. Tricker's timing is, once again, exemplary.
Thankfully, Tricker offers far more than a straightforward critique. He reminds readers that the purpose of the board of directors is to govern:
The governance of a company includes overseeing the formulation of its strategy and policy making, supervision of executive performance, and ensuring corporate accountability.
The purpose of a profit-oriented company is also made clear (a point famously made by Friedman):
To create wealth, by providing employment, offering opportunities to suppliers, satisfying customers , and meeting shareholders' expectations.
In calling out this matter, Tricker has hit the nail on the head—the effect of which is to place those motivated by the promulgation of unfounded memes in a rather awkward position. I am with Tricker; our understanding of corporate governance needs to be reset. Rather than pursue new memes (a perfectly adequate definition was established over fifty years ago), boards need to discover how to practice corporate governance effectively. Tricker (Corporate governance: Principles, policies and practices), Garratt (The fish rots from the head) and a few others provide excellent guidance as to how this might be achieved.
(Disclosure: The two books named in this article are the ones that I refer to most often when working with boards. I commend them to you.)
The opportunity to work with new and aspiring directors to build capability is something I find most gratifying. Regardless of whether the task is to facilitate an established course (Institute of Directors' Company Directors Course), pilot a new one (Governance Institute of Australia's The Effective Director Course) or run a private workshop with a board, the sense of fulfilment amongst directors as they grapple with situations, gain new insights from their colleagues and learn more about the role of the director is often quite palpable. However, the learning experience is by no means a one-way street. I also expect to (and do!) gain new insights. Here are some of the themes that have been apparent in the sessions I've led this year:
For more information about these or related topics, or to discuss implications for practice, please get in touch.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.