Disrupt or Oblivion – Challenges in the Digital Age?

The famous saying ‘Perform or Perish’ has made way to a new phrase ‘Disrupt or be Disrupted’. 

In today’s VUCA world, digital disruption has impacted nearly all sectors and markets. It will be interesting to understand how the boards tackle this technology conundrum.

Directors should look resort to look-in, look-out and look-forward approaches, to stay up to date on the latest developments related to emerging technologies and overall innovation.

A study of C-suite leadership in Europe and US has got an overwhelming consensus that a majority of Fortune 500 companies will be wiped out in the next 10 years or so if they don’t disrupt.  

In 1958, corporations listed in the S&P 500 had an average life of 61 years. By 1980, numbers from research firm Innosight reveal that the average stay had declined sharply to 25 years. In 2011, the average tenure dropped to 18 years. 

Research shows that since 2000, 52 percent of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist as an outcome of digital disruption. At the present rate of churn, Innosight’s research estimates three-quarters of today’s S&P 500 will be replaced by 2027.

A relatively new study finds most leaders unprepared to meet the demands of digital disruption

The report, Redefining Leadership for a Digital Age, was issued by the  Global Center for Digital Business Transformation (DBT Center) an initiative led by one of the top global business schools IMD. 

The report identified four competencies and three behaviours that business leaders need in order to excel in the era of digital disruption based on findings from a global survey of more than 1,000 executives across 20 different sectors. 

In turbulent times, leaders are caught in a technology-change vortex that is drawing in whole industries and creating disruption on an unprecedented scale. An eye-watering 92% of leaders said they are feeling the effects of digital disruption, with one-third rating the impact of digital disruption on their companies as “very significant.” 

Despite the quickening pace of digital innovation, less than 15% of leaders said that they were “very prepared” to meet the demands of a digitally disrupted business environment. The majority of participants (almost 80%) indicated that they were “starting preparations” or were “fairly prepared” to tackle digital disruption. 

The research further reveals:

•    Less than 20% of respondents indicated that digital technologies such as analytics, mobile and social media are fully integrated into their organisations
•    30% of respondents either rarely or only occasionally use digital tools and technologies

In light of the clear understanding of the importance of digitisation, the report outlines the following “HAVE” competencies as the most important success criteria for leaders facing a landscape characterised by digital disruption:

•    Humble — In an age of rapid change, knowing what you don’t know can be as valuable in a business context as knowing what you do. Digital leaders need a measure of humility, and a willingness to seek diverse inputs both from within and outside their organisations
•    Adaptable — In a complex and changing environment, an ability to adapt is critical. The global reach of digital technologies has opened up new frontiers for organisations, shrinking once insurmountable continental divides and erasing traditional boundaries between territories. Dealing with the cultural and business impacts of this requires adaptability. 
•    Visionary — In times of profound disruption, clear-eyed and rational direction finding is needed. Having a clear vision, even in the absence of detailed plans, is a core competency for digital leaders.
•    Engaged — Painting visions for the future, successfully communicating these visions and being adaptable enough to change them, requires constant engagement with stakeholders. This broad-based desire to explore, discover, learn and discuss with others is as much a mind-set, as it is a definable set of business-focused activities or behaviors


These digitally-engaged executives are called “Agile Leaders” — those who have adapted and evolved their practice for an environment continuously disrupted by digital technologies and business models.

Nearly half (42%) of those identified as Agile Leaders said that they were making more informed business decisions as the result of well-directed data gathering, effective analysis, and good judgment. 

The report identified the following additional practices that Agile Leaders adopt in a digitally-disrupted business environment: 

•    26% of Agile Leaders use digital tools and technologies frequently, compared   with just 7% of non-Agile Leaders
•    32% of Agile Leaders seek disruptive approaches to deal with challenges (1% non-Agile Leaders)
•    76% of Agile Leaders encourage their team to challenge their observations and opinions (19.4% non-Agile Leaders) 
•    26% of Agile Leaders take risks to speed up execution (4% non-Agile Leaders) 

Based on the findings from this survey, if you are a Board member it is worth asking yourself the following questions:

  1. Are there competencies and behaviours relevant to my organisation?
  2. Do my fellow board members also see the relevance?
  3. If not, what do we need to do to convince them?
  4. Assuming we all agree that we need some / all these skills, how do we recruit new board members with these soft skills.
At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

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David W Duffy

Sustainability was a focus at Davos, but Boardroom leadership is now required to have a real impact

Sustainability was a focus at Davos, but Boardroom leadership is now required to have a real impact

You don’t have to look too far to see that we have a real climate crisis in the world. The bush fires in Australia, the average rise in world temperatures, the Artic, constant flooding in the UK, more and more storms hitting the west coast of Ireland and so on. 

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore when speaking at Davos “compared the climatic crisis to historic events like the 9/11 terrorist attacks”

He said the crisis was “way worse” than many realize and intensifying “way faster” than people appreciated and described it as a “challenge to our moral imagination.”

Indeed many of the Chairs and CEO’s who attended Davos 2020 have long held the notion that “the business of business is business”. The conversation this year focused on purpose beyond profit.  This notion had already been teed up by the US based Business Roundtable press release in August 2019, which proposed that a company has a broader responsibility to society, which can be better served if it considers all stakeholders in its business decisions not just the shareholders

This broader focus by Business Roundtable signatories recognises the belated reality that millennials amongst others, are more sophisticated in what they want from the world of work than many companies who want to employ them realise.

In recent a Gallup poll [Gallup Millennial Report], it finds that workers have 12 basic needs for workplace engagement. 

One of these is that “millennials don’t just work for a pay check — they want a purpose”. This is reflected in other studies as well.

This suggests that millennials and many others are more likely to work for organisations that actually care about the planet.  

On the positive side,  many of the CEO’s of the world’s largest companies at Davos expressed support for publishing a core set of metrics and disclosures in their annual reports on the non-financial aspects of business performance such as greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for, diversity, employee health and well-being and other factors that are generally framed as Environmental, Social and Government (ESG) topics.  But support needs to be converted into action.

This is a start but is not enough.  Any companies that haven’t already woken up and smelled the coffee at this stage are in for a shock, as customers, shareholders and stakeholders start to increasingly demand action on sustainability. And it needs to be visible and not tucked away in an annual report.

Many business leaders now accept that their companies activities are in large part the problem, and therefore they are part of the solution.

Unless and until sustainability is on the board room agenda and woven into a companies strategies, then many of us including the millennials will be sceptical.

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and practical for those who need to know.

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David W Duffy  

E: dwduffy@governance-company.com

M: + 353 87 242 3046 

15 Corporate Governance Resolutions for 2020

15 Corporate Governance Resolutions for 2020 – Steps to becoming a Match-fit Director

  1. INSURANCE – Check your that your Directors and Officers Insurance cover is adequate and make sure it is in force
  2. SKILLS – Assess whether your skills, especially the technological skills are current to carry out your role and deliver on the strategy of the organisation? If not act to be relevant!
  3. STRATEGY – Ensure you understand the organisation’s strategy and assess if the board is overseeing its performance against the strategy on a regular basis. 
  4. ROLE – Discuss with your chair and ask what role he/ she wants you to play in the year ahead and how you can prepare for this.
  5. ADDING VALUE – Reflect on how you can add long term value to the Board, while at the same time ensuring that the shorter-term business goals are achieved.
  6. FIT FOR PURPOSE GOVERNANCE – Ensure you are happy with the governance arrangements of your organisation.  If not, request that an external evaluation is carried out without delay
  7. INFORMATION FLOWS – Satisfy yourself that the information being provided by the Executive enables you to assess the strategic and operational performance of your organisation
  8. DIVERSITY – Assess whether your board has the appropriate diversity to support the organisation’s strategic intent.
  9. CULTURE – Assess if the culture of the board is aligned with the culture and strategy of the organisation and whether the board sets the tone from the top or not.
  10. RISK – Ask yourself if you were responsible for risk at board level, does it get enough visibility and is front and centre in the minds of board members and board meetings?
  11. EVALUATION – If your performance has not been evaluated by the organisation in the last 12 months, ask the Chair for feedback?
  12. INDUCTION – Satisfy yourself if all new directors have a proper induction in place to understand the board and the organisation to carry out the duties.
  13. CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – Ensure that your board has a plan to provide you and your colleagues with continuous professional development to ensure that the board is up to date on all its regulatory, compliance and governance obligations.
  14. STRATEGY AWAY DAY – If this is not being done on a regular basis, suggest at your next board meeting that the organisation takes a day out to do this.  This will not only provide an opportunity to evaluate the strategy in some detail, but also to get to know the other board members and the executive a lot better.
  15. FUTURE CHALLENGES – Am I as a board member asking the right questions at Board meetings that ensure we are prepared for the future? Organisations will face several difficulties over the coming years with political, economic and regulatory challenges perpetually on the horizon. Consequently boards need to be match fit to tackle whatever comes their way. For example – What lies ahead?  How might we prepare for future challenges? What is the worst-case scenario for our organisation?
At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

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Size Matters!

Size Matters!

One of the most frequent questions we get asked by our clients is how large should a board be. We can safely say that there is no universal agreement on the optimum size of a board of directors. It depends……every Board in unique!

A large number of board members represents a real challenge in terms of using them effectively and having meaningful individual participation. A small number may be too few to carry out all the work that is required on the board.

So, some features that need to be considered in deciding what size the board should be are:

  • Stage of development of the company
  • Number of board committees required
  • Balance of skills and experience

So, let’s look at each of these in turn.

  1. Stage of development of the company

Small companies do not need large boards but having a board meeting is a good discipline even if all the members working in the company are executive directors and shareholders. 

As it grows, it may make sense to bring in certain skills and experience to support the ambition of the founders and to separate out the role of the board and the management team. This separation which needs to be real as it will build trust and confidence in the company with its bankers, shareholders, staff and donors if it is a charity.  This needs to be thought through very carefully particularly in family companies where succession planning will need very careful thought and planning.

  1. Number of board committees required

As a company develops and grows it will need to bring in greater structure and establish board committees.  Typical committees could be;

  • Audit
  • Compensation
  • Nomination
  • Risk

All board committees should be chaired by NEDs if possible.

The audit and compensation committees must be made up of independent members.  Assuming a minimum number for each committee is two or three depending on the size of the company, this means that a minimum of four to six board members are required for those committees so that no one is on more than one committee. It would not be good practice to have an overlap of independent members serving on both the audit and compensation committees, as it may lead to conflicts of interest. So, the more committees, a company has, the more board members and NEDs are required.  Doubling up will be OK as long as it does not lead to conflict or too much of a workload for a director

  1. Balance

We favour boards where the non-executives are in the majority, the Chair is not the CEO and terms do not exceed a nine years maximum. The board should consist of the right combination of skills and experience required to support the achievement of the strategy.

Key Takeaway

We believe boards that can accommodate the features above will succeed. We think any number beyond 10 will be hard to be justified in terms of the effort and cost to sustain them.  Beyond that we are dealing with crowd control!

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:

  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Board Evaluation
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
  • Corporate Governance Bootcamps 

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David W Duffy

Mind the Competency Gap – NED vs Executive Director

Deciding to become a non-executive director should not be done on a whim.  It’s a serious statutory role with specific legal and regulatory responsibilities.

While there may be a certain attraction about serving on a board, it’s not hard to understand why. This could include the perceived status, sitting around the board room table with ambitious like-minded peers, new professional relationships, development opportunities it offers, access to leaders etc. If you are providing your talents to a charity or indeed an unpaid post on a state board, the satisfaction and perhaps the glow of giving back can be very rewarding.

However, before you get carried away and say yes, take a step back and consider the following.

The skills and experience required of a NED director are very different from being an executive director.  Don’t underestimate the gulf between the two.

A phrase to bear in mind on the role of a NED is “Nose in but fingers out” That is NED’s should not get involved in the day to day operations of the business unless there is some issue that is putting the business at risk.  If you are joining a board with only executive experience and you have not been a NED before, you may find it difficult to contribute at the right level, as the operations may currently be your comfort zone.

A NED is there to look at the big picture, the macro economic environment, company policy, strategy and setting the tone from the top in terms of ethics and values.  Executive directors are there to manage the business, implement strategy and focus on the operational.

So, if you are asked to become a non-executive director, you must be comfortable that you are bringing some unique value in terms of skills and experience to the Board and can step up to the NED plate.  Maybe that is why you were asked. If you have skill deficiencies in specific areas, do something about it beforehand, enroll for a course and get the required knowledge.

Next step is to be sure that you believe in the mission and vision of the organisation.  If so great, if not bail out now.

Don’t forget to check out the values, governance and strategy of the company, talk to the Chair, current and former directors, the CEO and take a view. Make sure you respect the other directors and would feel comfortable working with them.

Lastly conduct due diligence on the company, its financials, its D & O, and if it is looking hunky dory, press the GREEN button, but if not, press the PAUSE button and think ……is this for you. If you have any doubt, say NO.

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:

  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Board Evaluation
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
  • Corporate Governance Bootcamps 

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David W Duffy

Fresh air in the Boardroom is vital for Board renewal!

Fresh air in the Boardroom is vital for Board renewal

Succession planning is a key strategic role of any Board. Without good succession planning the organisation will struggle to thrive or even survive and provide the support that the executive needs.

Succession planning should be informed by the strategic plan and upcoming retirements as Board members come to the end of their terms.

However, for me the strategic plan provides the greatest influence.  The plan will set out the vision, ambition and the strategic objectives of organisation. This in turn will imply the type of skills and experience that a Board and Executive will require to deliver on its strategy. Some skills / experience will need to be replaced or enhanced to achieve their objectives. 

Assuming a Board is constantly ambitious, then the horsepower required of a Board will need to be boosted on an ongoing and planned basis.  This is taking a professional and strategic view of the shape of the Board going forward and the skills, experience and competencies required.

Planning should take account of the worst-case scenarios such as the Chair or CEO being unavailable for whatever reason. Planning for Board room succession is easier than with Senior Executive transition as the Board will see less of them than they will of their colleagues. Hence the need for a more systematic approach.

A Board will quickly become unfit for purpose if there is not a constant flow of fresh air in the room brought about by new members, greater diversity, new ideas and constructive challenge.

Seamless succession planning is the hallmark of any good organisation and generally will not hit the media as poor succession planning could. Board terms will be a factor in this and must be carefully planned to ensure Board and Management alignment with the strategic ambition of the organisation.

Succession should be carefully planned for by the Board itself or the nominations committee. It is an ongoing dynamic process. Appointments that are not well thought through will waste a seat at the Board room table.

Good Boards are constantly scanning the market for new Boardroom talent like any good football manager seeking to recruit the talent to win the UEFA Champions League Cup.

Part of the succession challenge at Senior Executive Level will be deciding between developing and promoting from within versus external recruitment.  Every situation is specific and must be treated accordingly.

Predicting the talent that a business will need for its next stage of development is difficult.  The NomCo’s job is to make sure the right talent is around the board room table.  Independence and objectivity come to mind!

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:

  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Board Evaluations
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
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David W Duffy

Underestimate the value of soft skills in the Boardroom at your peril!

Underestimate the value of soft skills in the Boardroom at your peril!

Directors Hard Skills are only part of the skill set required.

Our experience at The Governance Company in conducting board reviews is that there is all too often an undue focus on the functional and sectoral skills rather than the soft skills that will help Board performance.

When I ask what new skills that are typically required as part of the board renewal process, the answer is often, financial, commercial, legal, digital, governance skills and also specific knowledge of the sector in which the organisation competes, e.g. social media, food, healthcare etc.

Soft Skills are a vital ingredient in the VUCA (Vulnerable, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world

The more insightful boards will also consider what soft skills are also required around the Boardroom table.

Part of the challenge in board renewal is ensuring that there is balance in terms of the hard skills required but also in terms of the soft skills.

No board will benefit from having a collection of board members with the same personality type.  So, when thinking about renewal it is worth thinking about the personality profile of the current board and what enhancements or changes are required to it to bring a better overall balance.

So, what are the soft skills should be considered?

  • Connectedness, the ability to forge connections with people through networking
  • Directorial presence, the ability to be able to convey, confidence, credibility, gravitas and decisiveness often with less than perfect information under the pressure of the boardroom clock
  • Ability to communicate, the real skill of a director is in being able to read the room and deciding when to make the appropriate intervention in language that everyone understands with the appropriate authority and assertiveness
  • Being positive, inspiring and daring to dream beyond the here and now. Part of the role of the NED is to push out the boundaries of what could be and to rattle the cage of the company comfort zone
  • A high degree of emotional intelligence which is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotionsof others around the table.  In the often-charged atmosphere of the boardroom this is a key skill to be used judiciously
  • Being in the here and now. This means being very aware of the topic at hand, who may own it and what a constructive contribution might be
  • Ability to understand the personality profile of the boardroom to help inform the language and position of one’s contributions
  • A steady and consistent hand which will earn trust and confidence

The Governance Company, in conjunction with Odgers Berndtson, a global head-hunter surveyed more than 200 non-executive directors in Ireland and Overseas to identify the DNA of directors required to sustain and thrive in the changing, challenging and complex VUCA world.

This survey throws light on the most crucial competencies, behaviours and soft skills for future directors to ensure boardroom effectiveness. The survey responses indicate that boards of the future – and how they are assembled – will have to adapt in fundamental ways to meet the challenges of a fast-changing VUCA world.

Directors of the future will need to combine their innate curiosity with the ability to listen to others and then imagine and articulate future business scenarios for the benefit of the organisation. Listening, observing and constructively challenging board colleagues and executives will be a key requirement for directors in the future. Directors of the future will need to have and apply greater levels of emotional and social intelligence to their advisory role.

It will be important for future boards to cultivate greater diversity in how they think. One director said, “Boards will need to find a way to encourage [a] diversity of views and complementary skills, rather than defaulting to easy-to-measure [director] profiles such as ethnicity [and] gender.”

It is unlikely that all these skills will be resident in one person, so it is critical that the Board / Nominations Committee have done their homework to ensure that in recruiting new board members that they complement and enhance both the hard and soft skills required.

Diversity can only help!

Download full copy of the survey “Building a board to face the future” from our website.

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:

  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Online & Offline Board Evaluation
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
  • Corporate Governance Bootcamps 

Join us for topical and practical articles and insights from the world of governance.

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David W Duffy

Investment in Boards Creates more Sustainable Charities

Investment in Boards Creates more Sustainable Charities

The Governance Company has carried out numerous board evaluations of organisations in many different sectors, including, charities, commercial organisations, hospitals, membership bodies, statutory organisations and regulatory bodies to name but a few.

One of the common threads across all sectors is the lack of investment in board development and senior leadership in the organisation. The same applies to charities.

Charities are by their nature frugal with expenditure that does not contribute directly to their mission and that is understandable.

However, investment in the development of a charity’s board and leadership should be viewed as a necessary investment rather than a cost and one which increases an organisation’s effectiveness by strengthening its skills, capacity and knowledge base.

The Australian Charities and Not-for Profits Commission (ACNC) supports charities’ efforts to invest the appropriate time and resources in the development of their boards and leaders.  The ACNC also sets out to ‘support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for profit sector’.

The Italians say that a fish rots from the head, so if the investment is not made in the board, how can one expect the organisation not to be impacted by a poor board and leadership.

Undertaking meaningful investment in a charity’s board and leadership is a vital component of sound charity governance that helps to improve skills and foster trust and confidence in the sector.

There is drive towards creating the conditions to develop charities of scale, which should enable them to be more sustainable. To facilitate this, prudent investment by charities is required in the development of its board and leaders.  In my view this is not an optional extra but should be an ongoing activity to increase the ability of the organisation to govern and lead.

This is a defendable cost, which many charity boards may be reluctant to commit to for perhaps fear over adverse public reaction that often accompanies these types of investments.

A charity that does not meaningfully invest in the development of its boards and leaders is unlikely to be particularly robust, sustainable or innovative. The foundation of public confidence in charities is based on evidence of sound values, a credible purpose, good internal processes and skilled staff and board members.

The governance training carried out by The Carmichael Centre, Charities Institute Ireland and The Wheel is commendable. But more investment is required by the sector to ensure all charities, their boards and leadership can avail of ongoing and meaningful development.

Lack of investment in boards and the leadership will eventually lead to dysfunctional organisations and possible extinction.

Charites need to be able to provide the evidence to the public at large, donors and funders that they are investing in governance and not merely engaging in a box ticking exercise.

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:

  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Online & Offline Board Evaluation
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
  • Corporate Governance Bootcamps 

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David W Duffy

Selecting the CEO is the Board’s most important job

Selecting the CEO is the Board’s most important job

To many the most important job of the board can be any and all of the following:
  • Making sure the organisation has a strategic plan
  • Understanding the line in the sand between the role of the board and the role of the management team.
  • Ensuring the governance of the organisation is fit for purpose
  • Etc.
While these jobs are required, unless the organisation has the right CEO, it will not reach its full potential.

If the wrong CEO is selected the following can happen:

  • The organisation will stagnate because of a lack of vision and poor leadership
  • Poor leadership can lead to the departure of key staff
  • Innovation and productivity will decline as the staff do not believe in the CEO
  • Morale collapses and the company risks terminal decline
  • The Board may also need to get more involved in operational matters as it has lost confidence in the CEO’s ability to manage the company effectively.

So, the Board needs to consider the following in selecting the CEO:

  • The ability of the CEO to develop, obtain board approval and implement the strategic plan.
  • Does the CEO understand the sector and can he/ she bring and add value?
  • What skills and experience are required to deliver the plan? This could include outstanding leadership skills if this had been an issue with the previous CEO. There may be a need to reconnect with the staff to convince them that they have a future and that the organisation has as well. This is where those vital soft skills come into play such as:
    • Ability to communicate in the language of staff and customers
    • Empathy, authenticity and presence… the ability to be able to convey, confidence, credibility, gravitas and decisiveness often with less than perfect information
    • Being positive, inspiring and daring to dream beyond the here and now.
    • A high degree of emotional intelligence
    • Being in the here and now.
    • A steady and consistent hand which will earn trust and confidence
  • Has the CEO worked with a board before and knows how to use it as a key resource rather than a bi-monthly nuisance?
  • What has been the record of the CEO before?  Does that experience jell with the board’s aspirations for the future of the organisation?

There may well be other considerations!

Finally, a CEO should be appointed on a fixed term performance related contract that is evaluated annually.

Appointing a CEO without this framework will only bring heartache down road as not every CEO appointment will work out.

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:
  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Online & Offline Board Evaluation
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
  • Corporate Governance Bootcamps 
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David W Duffy

Effective boards need well-presented information to do their job

Part of the challenge for any executive is to be able to present the information a board needs to do its job in an imaginative and concise manner.

Few board members will thank the executive if they have tried to dig out the key information that matters from the poorly assembled board papers.

One of the key findings from the board reviews that the The Governance Company have carried out is that very few boards sit down once a year and assess if they are getting the information they need to do their job. Many boards are happy to put their trust in the executives to provide the information they need.  This may work at times.  But it’s no harm to sit back and review it.

As a basic principle, the board information pack should enable the board to assess how the organisation is performing against the:

  • Strategic plan
  • Annual Business plan
  • Financial and operational targets

In a survey conducted by insyncsurveys.com in relation to board papers, the respondents said:

  • More thoughtful management recommendations evidencing analysis of underlying material rather than presenting all the underlying material
  • Revamp the monthly board report to reduce the volume of data and change the focus to KPIs, analysis/interpretation of major variances and corrective actions, commentary on future trends and expectations
  • More incisive commentary in board reports would help us focus on the real picture underlying the performance reports
  • Board papers being so structured that they focus more on the issues that are challenging management re the future

In constructing board packs, the following should be made very clear:

  • “Matters for Decision” papers
  • “Matters for Strategic Discussion”
  • “Matters for Noting/Information”

Bear in mind that non-executive board members will be nowhere near as familiar with the detail the Executive will be. Executive directors will have intimate knowledge of the business and live it day in and day out, so Executive directors need try to see things from the NED perspective and make it as easy as possible for them to reach a prudent decision.

I am a great believer in less is more. The challenge for the Executive is to be able to present information in a manner that can be easily understood by an 18 year old!

The best way to do that, of course, is to provide them with comprehensive information…but presented in terms and language that is clear and easy to understand. Use lots of visuals, clever graphics, trend charts etc.

Lastly, if you can’t explain what you want to say and document in simple terms, chances are you don’t understand it yourself”.

At The Governance Company our ambition is to make corporate governance a topic that is engaging, stimulating and fun for those who need to know.

We offer the following services to help you in your governance journey:

  • Corporate Governance Advisory
  • Online & Offline Board Evaluation
  • Online Directors Competency Development & Assessment Programmes
  • Corporate Governance Bootcamps 

Join us for topical and practical articles and insights from the world of governance.

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David W Duffy