Generally speaking, boards of directors are comprised of well-meaning, competent people who want the best outcomes for the company they oversee. They go about their work diligently, with the best will in the world. However, many of well-intentioned boards don't achieve the outcomes they plan for. Why is this? Given the thousands of boards that meet every day, and the plethora of research undertaken over the last four decades, you would think that it would be straightforward to define and replicate "good governance". After all, we know what "good" and "governance" mean, don't we? Sadly, the reality is somewhat different: every company, every board and every situation is, to some extent, unique. Therefor, standard "best practice" models and frameworks often don't work. Even after forty years of trying, we still struggle to describe "good governance", let alone know how boards influence performance outcomes.
With this rather melancholic précis, it would be easy to conclude that boards are in trouble, and that the title question simply cannot be answered. I beg to differ. There are glimmers of light on the horizon, and they are worthy of investigation. This article is one. I commend it, and others like it, to you. While we have much to learn about boards and performance, knowledge of what "good governance" might look like is a good place to work from.
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Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.