August 2010                                                                                                                    Issue 4
BoardWorks International
Welcome to Issue 4 of Board Works
The boardroom poses more challenges to effective teamwork than most other areas of collective endeavour. Surprisingly, therefore, selection of board members is often left to chance. Succession planning is much talked about but little carried out . For some ideas and a structured process see  (Taking a Structured Approach to Board Succession Planning ).
Hot on the heels of finding the right people for your board should be an effective induction process. Too often, though, new board members are left to sink or swim. Their term may be almost over before they become fully effective and beginning to feel confident as a contributor to the board's work. It doesn't have to be like that, nor should it .(Getting On Board - The New Director Induction Process)
Has your board managed to hit the 'sweet spot' where board direction and control is optimised along with chief executive empowerment? If not, read about how important it is to set boundaries.  (What's So Hard About Saying 'No'? Revisiting Limitation Policies)

Finally, looking at reporting, some thoughts about improving the quality of the engagement between board and chief executive.  All too often the nature of the Chief Executive's report to the board leads the board off into operational detail and away from the type of dialogue a board and its chief executive should be having. (Is It Time to Rethink the Chief Executive's Report to the Board?)

Good reading
Graeme Nahkies

In This Issue
Taking a Structured Approach to Board Succession Planning
Getting on Board - the New Director Induction Process
What's So Hard About Saying 'No'? Revisiting Limitation Policies
Is It Time to Rethink the Chief Executive's Report to the Board
Have your Say
Article1 Taking a Structured Approach to Board Succession Planning
Succession PlanningA subject on which we have been asked to advise on increasingly in recent years is board succession planning. Given the performance pressures on boards it is a very positive sign that organisations are becoming less inclined to leave board composition to chance. We would argue that taking a deliberate and structured approach to director succession planning is as important in organisations where boards are 'elected' as it is in those where they are 'selected'.  This article is in two parts to reflect the different challenges of these two situations. 
Read and Print the full Article
Article2Getting On Board - The New Director Induction Process
The new Director Induction processIn the many board effectiveness surveys we have undertaken over the years, the quality of board induction processes has invariably been rated poorly. Other research we have undertaken suggests that, regardless of sector or type of organisation, the 'average' new board member takes about 2 years to feel fully competent in the role and comfortable in the position. This suggests that too many boards to take the process of getting new members 'on board' less seriously than they should. 
Article3What's So Hard About Saying 'No'? Revisiting Limitation Policies
What's so Hard about saying "No"?Over the last 20 years my colleagues and I have assisted many clients to develop delegation frameworks based on what are often referred to as 'limitation' policies.  Rather than traditional prescriptive policies that tell chief executives what they can or, more often, what they should do, limitation policies are proscriptive.
They say what the chief executive can't do
Article4Is It Time to Rethink the Chief Executive's Report to the Board?
CEO ReportMany chief executives complain about their boards. They use terms like 'meddling' and 'crossing the line'. They also lament that their boards spend too much time in the detail and are not strategic enough. While boards are susceptible to these behaviours, a quick look in the mirror is likely to help these chief executives find the principal source of their problem. The answer will frequently lie in taking a fresh look at how they are reporting to the board. In particular, they should focus on the type of report that they make personally to the board. The potential to engage in a powerful dialogue with the board is seldom realised.


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"Commercially, it is little comfort for shareholders of a poorly performing company to know their directors, management and auditors are neither negligent nor fraudulent, just not very good at creating and conserving wealth." Fred Hilmer in 'Strictly Boardroom' (1993)  

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