Vantage Blog

05
Jun
2018

Achieving balance on a Board

There is no doubt that Boards and their governance are headline grabbers at the moment. And for good reason. There’s clearly been failures in some of the bigger organisations. And accountability obviously rests at the feet of the directors in many cases.


However, a big risk in all of these discussions is an overreaction. Not just in terms of regulation, but just as importantly in terms of board focus.


One response could be for nervous boards to disproportionately focus on governance above all other responsibilities. Yes, in some cases governance clearly needs to be tightened, but not to the detriment of a clear focus on looking forward; tackling the big challenges and opportunities that face each and every organisation.


On the boards that I am involved with, and in particular that I have or am currently chairing, I have a 70/20/10 framework.


Our aspiration is to focus discussions 70% on strategy (looking forward), 20% on performance (looking back) and 10% on governance (looking both ways).


Not always easy to do, and urgent challenges can get in the way, but it is a good frame within which directors can think about their role and the value they can truly add.


However, the trick is to firstly ensure that the governance foundation is firm and is regularly reviewed against a changing environment. Culture is key. Having the right systems and processes are important, as well as ensuring they are regularly stress checked.


Similarly, for performance – what are the key metrics being used, and how open and transparent are management in discussing performance issues with the board. Insights around performance obviously are key inputs to the explorations in the strategy space.


Once there are transparent and robust foundations around governance and performance, the board should be able to focus on the most critical area in my opinion – strategy. As a board you need to agree the process and approach you are going to take with management to review, refine and stress test your strategy – today and into the future.





 I find it handy to have a board toolkit – a set of frameworks, tools and models that suit each board in the four areas of strategy, performance and governance. But also, in a fourth – capability. What processes, skills and experiences do the board need to do its job well.


I am happy to share my board toolkit - please feel free to contact me at jatkins@vantagemarketing.com.au or on 0419 516 655.


James Atkins 

Vantage Strategy & Marketing






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