The selection and implementation of strategies that enable a company to compete effectively appears to be crucial to value maximisation. Given this, who should drive the development of corporate strategy? The value that boards can contribute appears to lie in their active and ongoing involvement in the strategic management process—through the consideration of strategic options; the development of strategy; the making of strategic decisions; and, the adequate monitoring of strategy implementation and subsequent performance. It seems to improve the quality of environment scanning; minimise the chance of selecting poor strategies; and, improve decision-making. Assertiveness and knowledge about the business also appears to be important, even though many CEOs believe their boards do not fully understand the strategic drivers to their company's success. The question of who should drive the strategy development process is less clear however.
My recent research suggests there is a fine line between the board having an active involvement in strategic matters (seen as desirable), and the board being seen to impinge on management's delegated responsibility to implement strategy. While the development of strategy is now widely recognised as a major task of the board, all of the CEOs that I interviewed claimed to control the process of strategy development, whether their board was actively involved or not. Also, company performance appeared to be enhanced when the division of labour between board and management was clearly defined and efficiently implemented. Further, the boards of successful companies appear to enjoy strong relations with management; they seek to make consensus decisions together in order to achieve strategic goals; and, the amount of political interplay between individuals appears to be low. The key point is that the board and management work together in a positive manner, and that they are both actively involved in the process of defining and deciding where and how the company should be headed.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and boardcraft; our place in the world; and other topics that catch my attention.