Adding Real Value to Your Board 150 150 MAKE IT BETTER TABLE

Adding Real Value to Your Board

Boards – whether we sit on them or report to them, we all have frustrations to share. 

There are boards where it’s quicker to read War and Peace in the original Russian rather than the meeting papers . 

There are boards where the official agenda is ignored while board members or management explore their own preferred and well-practiced agendas. 

There are boards that happily tick the ‘compliance’ box, but ignore the key issues facing the organisation. 

You could add other frustrations to that list. 

A critical question emerges from this dissatisfaction: what’s the point of a board? In addressing this, we can understand why board meetings sometimes feel pointless or weighed down with too much peripheral data. We can also understand why board members feel unfulfilled in their role. 

More importantly, we can do something about it and help boards add value. 

Dr Judith McCormick, writing in March 2021’s Company Director, urges us to rethink the role of boards. McCormick advocates for a ‘Marie Kondo-style make over’, where the clutter is removed so that the board functions effectively: ‘Minimal viable governance is about boards focusing on what matters. Boards need to step back from the good governance model, and focus on their core mission – to provide strong oversight and strategic support for management’s efforts to create long-term value.’ (italics mine.) 

An effective board, McCormick suggests, ‘adds real value.’ We’d all consider a board meeting worthwhile if both management and the board members left knowing how they had added value to the organisation. 

One way of the board adding value, argues McCormick, is to focus on this question: ‘What is the organisation’s purpose, why does it exist? The strategy behind implementing this purpose ‘should engage the whole board.’ (In the next article, we’ll explore McCormick’s other suggestions for improving the effectiveness of your board.) 

At donkey wheel, this is not merely a theoretical exercise. Chair Col Duthie and CEO Paul Steele have initiated three focus areas for the donkey wheel board. Note the common question at the end of each section. 

1. Is the corporate energy good? Are we taking care of our people? Is the CEO fostering a good culture? Are we working to our strengths? Are you satisfied that this is being looked after? 

2. Compliance and finance. This deals with the legalities. Do the financials represent a healthy entity? Are you satisfied that it’s being managed well? 

3. Intent and Identity. Are we being true to who we are and what we say we’re going to do? Are you satisfied that this is being attended to? 

We’ll keep you posted with what we discover, and would love to hear your stories as you seek to make your board add value to your organisation. 

Craig Brown

donkey wheel storyteller