2015                                                                                                               Issue 16


BoardWorks International

Welcome to Issue 16 of Board Works


In almost every board effectiveness review we are told by directors that they wish they had more time for strategic thinking. How much time is available to focus on the future is almost always a result of the choices a board makes as to how it spends its time. In 'Focusing on the Future ' I discuss the barriers to realising this ambition and identify some key principles that, if adopted, would greatly assist to improve the board's future focus.


As a counterpoint to this article I explore why an organisation's history is also important from a governance perspective. In 'The Importance of History in a Governance Context' I examine why a board would want to have a readily accessible written history to draw on. I also identify a range of approaches an organisation might take to begin developing its historical record.


A challenge in membership-type organisations, in particular, is the common constitutional requirement for a board chair to be elected immediately after an annual general meeting. In 'Is There a Case for Having a 'Transitional Chair'?' I examine the challenges that result from this requirement, the risks involved in selecting the best suited candidate to chair the board, and make the case for some form of transitional arrangement.


In the final article 'When the Chief Executive Dominates the Board' I explore a problem too many boards experience and have difficulty resolving. In my experience, many, if not most, directors who perceive this is a problem focus their criticism on the Chief Executive. Ironically, it is far more likely to be the case that the problem originates with the board itself! In this article I explore some of the reasons why this might be so.


Good reading

Graeme Nahkies


In This Issue
Focuing on the Future
The Importance of History in a Governance Context
Is There A Case For Having A 'Transitional Chair'?
When the Chief Executive Dominates the Board
 Article16AFocusing on the Future


Is your board paying adequate attention to the future or is it one of those whose 'rear vision mirror' become so large it has blocked its forward view of where the organisation is heading?


There is a fundamental reality that all boards must confront: they can only influence what has not yet happened.......


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Article16BThe Importance of History in a Governance Context


I have been thinking a lot recently about the governance importance of documenting an organisation's history. One catalyst has been the need for a board I chair to rethink formal arrangements in respect of an important stakeholder relationship where none of the existing directors or senior executives have knowledge of the basis for its origins and structure .


Article16CIs There A Case For Having A 'Transitional Chair'? 
It is arguable that the most important ingredient in effective governance is the capability and performance of the board leader. However, it is not uncommon for boards to rush - or be pushed - into the election of a board chair and, as a consequence, to make a poor choice.
Article16DWhen the Chief Executive Dominates the Board 

It is not uncommon to find boards that are, to all intents and purposes, subordinate to their chief executive. This may result from chief executive personality traits that have a negative impact well beyond the boardroom. More often, though, it is a problem the board has inadvertently brought on itself.....


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Where all think alike, no one thinks very much.


Walter Lippmann




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