April 2010                                                                                                                    Issue 2
BoardWorks International

Welcome to Issue 2 of Board Works
Many thanks to those readers who have given us feedback on the first issue of our new periodical. We are encouraged by your reaction to its content and we also appreciate your drawing our attention to the odd technical glitch.  We hope we have addressed most of those but if you find any continuing problems please let us know.  We are also looking into suggestions you have made about the way in which the material is made available.  For example, we hope to be able to bring you additional download options in the near future.
In this issue we begin by examining the various stages typically experienced by organisations changing chief executives. We have tried to highlight the extended impact involved in the transition process and to identify what a board should be thinking about to ensure the transition is as smooth (and as rapid) as possible (Considerations in Making the Transition to a New Chief Executive).
The second article extols the virtues of what some have referred to as 'dumb questions' (Valuing Intelligent Naivety).  It is about developing a board's ability to use the undoubted intelligence of its members, both individually and collectively, to ask profound questions about matters they may know comparatively little about.
Finally we offer some ideas on a very simple technique for keeping a board meeting on track (The 'Parking Lot') and explore whether there is any real difference between the terms 'general manager' and 'chief executive' (What's In A Name - GM or CEO?)

We hope you will find the material we provide both interesting and useful. By the way, there is no charge for Board Works.

Good reading
Graeme Nahkies

In This Issue
Considerations in Making the Tranistion to a New Chief Executive
Valuing Intelligent Naivety
Board Meeting Tip: Parking Lot
What's in a Name - GM or CEO?
Have your Say
Articles Considerations in Making the Tranistion to a New Chief Executive
CEO Transitions Organisations become less effective - sometimes spectacularly so - during the time it takes to make the transition from an outgoing chief executive to a new one. The lessons from experience are that the transition process can and should be managed with as much deliberation and care as the selection process itself. 

Read and Print the full Article
Valuing Intelligent Naivety
Intelligent Naivety"I quickly understood that it was my job to ask the dumb questions," said one of NZ's outstanding leaders reflecting on her early governance experience when she was often the only female board member. "Further to the point, I was frequently thanked privately by my male colleagues for raising certain issues or asking questions to which they also wanted to know the answers." An experienced male director commented at the same workshop that, "...in the boardroom, men often hold back from asking questions because they seem to feel a gender obligation to behave as if they understand everything."
Research also seems to support these observations that male dominated boards might be deficient in their ability to inquire and question effectively. For example, one US study suggests that, compared with men, women directors are likely to show greater persistence than their male colleagues in pursuing answers to difficult questions (1).
Regardless of their membership mix and whether there are verifiable gender differences, boards should take active steps to ensure that they do not suffer from an inability to adequately inquire and question. Where this inherent learning disability exists the risks are high indeed.

(1)     Vicki Kramer, Alison Konrad and Sumru Erkut (2006). Critical Mass on Corporate Boards: Why Three or More Women Enhance Corporate Governance. Wellesley, MA. Wellesley Centers for Women

Board Meeting Tip: Parking Lot
 Board meeting Tip: Parking Lot
A parking lot is a useful place to store members' vehicles during a board meeting.  The 'parking lot' referred to in this article, however, is a somewhat different concept.  It refers to a useful process for keeping track of matters arising during the course of a meeting that are worthy of further attention - but just not today.

This boardroom parking lot is simply the place (often a flip chart) where the board 'parks' any matters that arise (e.g. ideas, questions and future agenda topics) that aren't on its agenda, but which the board agrees could be important or valuable to consider at another time. The use of a parking lot (sometimes also called an 'issues list') helps to keep the present board meeting on task and moving forward.
What's in a Name - GM or CEO?
 What's in a Name?
Question: Can you give me some advice on the differences between the titles 'general manager' and 'chief executive officer'?  We are currently pondering this issue for my position.
Answer: As far as titles go it is really a matter of choice; there is nothing hard and fast.  The terms are often used interchangeably. In recent years, however, it has become more common to use the term chief executive for an organisation's principal paid employee.  There has developed a wide sense that a 'CEO' role carries more status and has a 'bigger' job.


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