How Corporate Boards Can Improve Their Effectiveness

Board service is a fantastic opportunity to step away from your normal business responsibilities and hone your ability to see an organisation as the whole, not only the functional areas that you’ve managed in the past. It also allows you to be exposed to the wide range of issues and problems that businesses have to face. You may have to make difficult decisions that impact the people around you, for example, deciding on redundancies or closing down the branch. These situations teach you how to think clearly and not be influenced by your own emotions or those of your colleagues.

Another issue that comes up is how to ensure a broad range of voices are heard during discussions and in the decision-making process. There are a variety of methods boards employ to achieve this. For example, some boards encourage directors to play devil’s advocate at meetings. Other boards employ a whiteboard approach to brainstorm ideas and “spitball” possible solutions before making an important decision. This can help remove decision-making from the personality of individuals and helps in avoiding groupthink.

Boards can also increase their effectiveness by being willing to challenge the traditional structures that have been in place for many years. A number of board members, for example are re-examining their committee structures. They question whether they are serving their function and are an efficient method to manage meetings. They are examining new ways of identifying patterns and insights that may be hidden in the data and digital tools.

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