October 2010                                                                                                              Issue 5

BoardWorks International
Welcome to Issue 5 of Board Works

  

 

We begin this issue with the perennial debate about the line between governance and management.  This is something that bubbles up from time to time in most boardrooms. It is not too difficult to get to grips with provided some basic principles (and realities) are understood. (Where is 'The Line'? )

 

Technology is impacting on the boardroom in many different ways. We explore the impact of the 'smart phone' era on boardroom performance and, in particular, their potential negative impact. What can be done to ensure these great tools are our servants not our masters? (Are You Really at the Meeting or Just 'Present'?)

  

It is a sign of the times when a group of board chairs at a sector meeting express concern about the potential for stress among their chief executives. As representatives of boards aspiring to be good employers these chairs were keen to learn more about how to recognise and deal effectively with signs of chief executive stress (which chief executives themselves are highly motivated to hide and deny!). We explore some of the symptoms and suggest that boards' own shortcomings are a good place to start looking for a solution.  (What Are You Doing to Help Your Chief Executive Manage Stress?)

Finally, in this issue we explore the concept of the 'ladder of inference'. There is a common tendency in the boardroom (and not just in the boardroom!) to jump to conclusions - often the wrong ones. How can we understand the processes better and what should we do to reduce the risk? (The Ladder of Inference)

 

We hope you will find the material we provide both interesting and useful. By the way, there is no charge for Board Works. Please feel free to forward it to friends and colleagues.

Good reading

 

Graeme Nahkies



 



In This Issue
Where is 'The Line'?
Are You Really At This Meeting Or Just 'Present'?
What Are You Doing To Help Your Chief Executive Manage Stress
The Ladder of Inference
Have your Say
Article1 Where is 'The Line'?
Where is the lineIt is common to hear both board members and managers talking about 'the line' between governance and management. This is most likely when there is a sense that one of the parties has strayed too far into the other's (jealously guarded) territory.  These conversations often reflect the assumption that the respective roles and responsibilities are clearly distinguishable.  
 

Read and Print the full Article
Article2Are You Really At This Meeting Or Just 'Present'?

 

IphoneWe are now in an age in which technology - in the form of various wireless, handheld communication devices - has created an addiction of a kind. Many of us are compulsively attracted to the capability to be instantly connected. 'Smart phones' and laptops are networked devices that for the most part are purposefully designed to attract our attention without regard for the place we are or the activity we are engaged in.

It used to be bad enough when people would not turn their mobile telephones off in board meetings. Now, with this new generation of devices there are many board members who feel obliged to be constantly available to people outside the boardroom via email and SMS. These small, handheld communication tools mean people are physically present at board meetings but their attention is regularly diverted elsewhere.


 
Article3What Are You Doing To Help Your Chief Executive Manage Stress?
 

Executive stressIt was a sign of the times when I was recently asked to lead a discussion with a group of board chairs concerned about the potential for stress among their chief executives. As representatives of boards aspiring to be good employers these chairs were keen to learn more about how to recognise and deal effectively with signs of chief executive stress.  I was delighted to contribute to the discussion because the type of macho stereotypes that persist in our corporate world, are extremely unhelpful, if not downright dangerous.

 

 
 
 
Article4The Ladder of Inference
 

LadderIn the boardroom decision making environment, whether we challenge accept or other people's conclusions and assumptions we need to be confident that their reasoning, and ours, is based firmly on the best information we can get. The challenge is to make sure decisions and subsequent actions are transparent and grounded as close to reality as possible. There are many impediments to the type of dialogue that will achieve this. Not least, time at board meetings is invariably in short supply. We are always under pressure to deal with matters here and now.

 
 

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