"In our world now, the primary mover for reproductive success—and thus evolutionary change—is culture, and its weaponised cousin, technology."
The words in this quotation, originally published in National Geographic (*), stood out when I first read them recently. They seemed to lift themselves off the page, as if to highlight their significance. The penny dropped when I realised the quotation is applicable well beyond the [biological] world from whence it emerged.
Take boards of directors for example. The quotation suggests that board effectiveness (and, by implication, company performance) is more likely to be influenced by board culture and appropriate technology than any static attribute such as a particular board structure, composition or governance code. This intuitively attractive proposition enjoys widespread support in the academic literature, and case studies of actual board experiences have been reported.
Yet board and company failures abound, which begs an awkward question. Why do some boards continue to prioritise structure and compliance (with statutes and codes of practice) over culture and technology, especially when a stronger focus on the latter is more likely to lead to increased board effectiveness and, importantly, better company performance?
(*) D.T. Max (2017). Beyond Human, National Geographic, April 2017, p.49.
How do you see this as playing out - in the best case? How would boards embrace a culture and technology focus to drive success? I've been interested in the latter half for two decades, albeit not at the board level.
Great question Michael!
Thanks for your answer Peter.
Thanks Michael, especially for the weblinks and references to Culmsee's work. The difficulty of course, is that the board is a collective of directors who are duty-bound to make decisions together. The references you have mentioned provide for the possibility of boards engaging much more strongly between meetings, something that I have long advocated because directors need to understand the business of the business if the board is to make high quality decisions. I'll spend some time looking into these matters over the next week or two and, if you are willing, visit you to discuss further.
"Duty-bound to make decisions together." "Together" is currently enacted through in-person meetings, but it doesn't have to be. "Together" can be re-conceptualised as common materials, common processes, and joint input and evaluation.
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Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.