"So, how's the research going?"
"Pretty well, thank you for asking."
I've been party to this brief exchange, or a close variant of it, most weeks this year. It's usually originated by someone who knows me; or someone who has an interest in what I'm doing; or, someone who finds it odd that I stopped working a couple of years ago to investigate how boards influence performance. My response has typically been quite private—as above—without wanting to appear to be rude. That someone might actually be interested enough to listen to me wax on for a few minutes is an assumption I have wished to avoid, However, with the project now in its final couple of months and the write-up well underway, and seemingly increasing levels of interest in the findings starting to come from business people and academics, I've decided to write a weekly update from here on in. Please let me know if they are helpful or not. If you have a specific question, please post a comment below or send a note, and I will do my best to provide an answer. My goal, of submitting the completed thesis by Christmas Day, remains intact. It'll be tight—because work has an innate capacity to expand to fill the time available—but doable.
The thesis will be six chapters long. Two of the three longest chapters (Literature Review and Research Methodology) have been out for review for a couple of weeks now. Last night, I finished the third of the 'big three' chapters (Data and Initial Analysis, the chapter that contains a summary of all of the data that has been collected and starts to makes sense of it). The first drafts of the Introduction and Conclusion chapters are completed as well. The satisfaction of having broken the back of the thesis writeup was palpable. The remaining chapter is entitled Discussion and Theory Development. It will be somewhat shorter than the big three and, as the title implies, it will hopefully answer the question that I set out to address. So, it needs careful thought. Thankfully, I have a fairly good sense of what needs to be written, although the proof of whether I'm on track will come as the week progresses and the mixed bag of notes and sentence fragments congeal (or not!).
However, there is hardly a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind in the air this morning. The sun is streaming in the window and a tui is happily calling from a nearby tree. So, I have decided to take the day off. My wife and I are going to visit a famous rhododendron and azalea garden, in our old car, with a picnic. The joys of Spring! No doubt we will chat about the real sense I have, of now closing in on the prize and of handing over the final draft so it can be examined. But one must not get ahead of themselves, for there is much to be written yet.
I'll keep you informed.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.