The case of state-owned enterprise Solid Energy, the CEO of whom was a doyen of the business community, raises some interesting questions, as practitioners and researchers search for reasons for the "perfect storm" and the recent fall from grace:
Hopefully, answers to at least some of these questions will become apparent in the coming weeks, as the investigations proceed. We have much to learn from this case—both in terms of what happened, and in terms of how governance, decision-making and management could (should?) be conducted differently in the future.
In the meantime, one thing that has been puzzling me has been the response of the Board. Why did Don Elder, the former CEO, have to endure considerable criticism from the media, the public, former employees and the government (the shareholder and regulator) in recent days? Why was attention not focussed on the Board, and why did they not come forward? Surely the Board, as the shareholder's representative, holds the ultimate accountability to ensure the satisfactory and sustainable performance of the business?
The attendance of John Palmer, former Chair, alongside Don Elder at the Select Committee meeting yesterday provided some comfort. Helpfully, apologies were provided to affected parties amongst the conciliatory and defensive responses. However, many questions over the financial management of the company, and of how strategic decisions were made, remain. Hopefully, the various authorities and interested stakeholders will put their reputations, egos and agendas aside in order to conduct a proper investigation and learn from the findings. Here's hoping.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and effective board practice; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.