Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A ‘Fitting’ Board

The Fitting Board needs to have not just physical strength or mental toughness, but more about the fitting minds and the fresh eyes.


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Organizations today have to live up with the business dynamic which is uncertain, ambiguous, complex and flux, Board as high-level governance body plays a crucial role in business advising & monitoring, as well as setting key tones in organizational culture style and leadership quintessential. What does it mean to build a fitting Board, and who is the best fitting BoD, a specialist or a generalist?

The best fit for the board depends on the Boards current makeup and culture and which "gap" needs to be filled: A Fresh eye is anyone willing to challenge the current level of 'group' think. The important issue is how the board accommodates diverse opinions and how they assess them and converge the diverse thought into wise decisions all BoDs' support.  

Every decision requires a different way of thinking: Every fitting board needs individuals who think outside the box. Choosing someone based on only one criterion may limit the board. There is a need for both Generalists and Specialists - the Generalists can give an overview while the Specialist can "drill down" into specific topics. It's all a matter of teamwork. 

A Fitting Board is an Advocate of System Thinking: As Board's main job is to oversight. After a periodic self-evaluation and skills assessment, a Board needs a well-rounded team of individuals who can work well together. Generally speaking, the ideal BoD is one who has a specialty in something but is not tied to the tyranny of expertise. The tyranny of expertise is the idea that being thought only through the limited field of expertise. An ideal board is one where every board member brings a specific area of expertise but can think from a system level perspective.

The Fitting Board needs to have both ‘Fresh Eyes’ and ‘Inquisitive Mind”: That's key when they suggest a new strategic direction for the company. Here are some checkpoints: Is the discussion that follows robust and insightful? Does the Chair ask around for opinions? Is management tested then and there for its reaction? Is sufficient meeting time devoted to what the "fresh eye" sees? If an idea gains traction, is management charged with a more comprehensive assessment and follow up? What is Corporate Counsel's input? Now the benefits of adding that "fresh eye" or “inquisitive mind” will become more apparent, either as specialist or generalist--they're both essential.

 Boards as a whole do need to both have an overview and do a credible drill down: Each standing committee needs some expertise as well as the ability to clearly communicate trusted and relevant views to the board as a whole. So Boards are more effective with a mix of generalists who can drill down in some areas and experts with the bandwidth and experience to see beyond their silos and all be able to communicate with each other. Pure generalists and pure specialists may not be as helpful. Like all other senior level executive roles, the “T” shape talent- the specialized generalists are the better fitting BoDs. Ideally, having the balance on a Board gives the optimum of experience and sound advice/judgment to the senior executive teams of the company

Either a learning Board, an innovative Board, a tech-savvy Board or a fitting Board, the purpose is to build a high-performing board to direct organization towards the journey with a clear vision, a strong strategy, solid roadmap and effective oversight.


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