Dec 062017
 

Find out how you can obtain a Non-Executive Director position by booking a place on this interactive 1-day course.

non-executive director“A well structured and presented introduction to the responsibilities, challenges and attributes required of being a NED. It was thought-provoking. I have referred back to my copious comments in the comprehensive slide hand outs many times already”

Simon C Jones, Interim Transformation Leader and Hidden Value Discoverer

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

Institute of Directors
116 Pall Mall
London
SW1Y 5ED 

Price
£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price

£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now
To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:

Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning


*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Nov 012017
 

Are you thinking of becoming a Non-Executive Director as part of a Portfolio Career or to develop your boardroom skills prior to taking up an executive director role?

 

directors duties roles responsibilitiesJoin us on Tuesday, November 21 2017 to find out how you can become a Non-Executive Director

“Unlike many courses I have attended in the past, How to become a Non-Executive Director went beyond just the technical aspects of being a ‘Non-Exec’, and reflected on the differences in the approach required compared to being an Exec Director.
It allows you to make a fully informed decision on whether a Non Exec role is right for you, and if it is, how to go about finding opportunities.
An invaluable day of learning!”

Alastair Lewis Director at Smaointe Ltd

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

Orchard Street Business Centre
14 Orchard Street
Bristol BS1 5EH

Price:

£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price
£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Discount Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now

To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning


 

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Sep 272017
 

The effective Non-Executive Director course helps you to be an effective non-executive director. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

The effective Non-Executive Director

This one-day interactive course is aimed at newly appointed or serving NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work.

Who should attend?

Individuals who are newly appointed or serving non-executive directors.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how to be effective as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: 

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:
Institute of Directors
116 Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5EDPrice
£330.00 (ex VAT)
Payment with Booking Price
£300.00 (ex VAT)
Partner Discount Price
£280.00 (ex VAT)*
Book Now
To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Courses can be delivered ‘in-house’ to a group of Non-Executive Directors – to find out more contact courses@excellencia.co.uk or call 01173 827 820

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Aug 302017
 

Are you thinking of becoming a Non-Executive Director as part of a Portfolio Career or to develop your boardroom skills prior to taking up an executive director role?

 

directors duties roles responsibilitiesJoin us on Wednesday, September 12 2017 to find out how you can become a Non-Executive Director

“Unlike many courses I have attended in the past, How to become a Non-Executive Director went beyond just the technical aspects of being a ‘Non-Exec’, and reflected on the differences in the approach required compared to being an Exec Director.
It allows you to make a fully informed decision on whether a Non Exec role is right for you, and if it is, how to go about finding opportunities.
An invaluable day of learning!”

Alastair Lewis Director at Smaointe Ltd

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

Orchard Street Business Centre
14 Orchard Street
Bristol BS1 5EH

Price:

£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price
£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Discount Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now

To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning


 

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Jun 022017
 

Find out how you can obtain a Non-Executive Director position by booking a place on this interactive 1-day course.

non-executive director“A well structured and presented introduction to the responsibilities, challenges and attributes required of being a NED. It was thought-provoking. I have referred back to my copious comments in the comprehensive slide hand outs many times already”

Simon C Jones, Interim Transformation Leader and Hidden Value Discoverer

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

The Plaza
100 Old Hall Street
Liverpool
L3 9QJ

Price
£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price

£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Discount Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now
To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:

Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Mar 032017
 

Are you thinking of becoming a Non-Executive Director as part of a Portfolio Career or to develop your boardroom skills prior to taking up an executive director role?

How to become a Non-Executive Director

Join us on Tuesday, March 14 2017 to find out how you can become a Non-Executive Director

“Unlike many courses I have attended in the past, How to become a Non-Executive Director went beyond just the technical aspects of being a ‘Non-Exec’, and reflected on the differences in the approach required compared to being an Exec Director.
It allows you to make a fully informed decision on whether a Non Exec role is right for you, and if it is, how to go about finding opportunities.
An invaluable day of learning!”

Alastair Lewis Director at Smaointe Ltd

The How to become a Non-Executive Director course helps you to plan and prepare for your first NED position. It instils a real sense of what is expected of NEDs, and how you can meet the challenge.

This one-day interactive course is aimed at aspiring NEDs and covers essential knowledge about roles, responsibilities, strategy and corporate governance that are key foundations for a Non-Executive board role. It also considers up to date thinking on corporate governance and the responsibilities of owners, the board and employees.

This is followed by practical sessions on identifying NED opportunities, the process of obtaining a first appointment and performing due diligence before any position is accepted. There is emphasis on the importance of presenting your experiences with clarity and relevance.

This course identifies the various ways and circumstances in which non-executive directors can make an effective contribution to a board’s work. It also examines methods for their selection and reviews their motivation, induction and reward.

Who should attend?
Individuals who are currently a non-executive director; those seeking appointment as a non-executive director and those looking to appoint a non-executive director.

What to expect?

  • Clarifies how and why non-executive directors can strengthen a board
  • Provides practical guidance on how best to secure an appointment as a non-executive director

Course objectives
Participation on this course will provide you with the knowledge to:

  • Clarify the board’s role, purpose and key tasks
  • Appreciate the contributions that non-executive directors can make to the board in different types of company and situations
  • Recognise the qualities and experience needed to fulfil a non-executive director appointment
  • Appreciate appropriate methods for finding, selecting, appointing and rewarding non-executive directors
  • Understand the preparation required to interview for or be interviewed for the post of non-executive director

Course Leader: David Doughty CDir FIoD

David Doughty - Chartered DirectorThe course is delivered by David Doughty, a Chartered Director and highly experienced Non-Executive, Chief Executive, Chair, Entrepreneur and Business Mentor. David has extensive executive and non-executive experience in small and medium enterprises in private and public sectors. He is also a board level consultant to multi-national organisations and a Chartered Director Ambassador for the Institute of Directors. See his LinkedIn profile here: (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daviddoughty)

Key Details
Duration: 1 day
Location:

Orchard Street Business Centre
14 Orchard Street
Bristol BS1 5EH

Price:

£330.00 (ex VAT)

Payment with Booking Price
£300.00 (ex VAT)

Partner Discount Price*
£280.00 (ex VAT)

Book Now

To see course dates and to book your place now follow this link:
Course Registration
The fee includes lunch, refreshments and a copy of the course handbook

Attendance counts as 6 CPD hours of structured learning


 

*Discounts on Excellencia course fees are available for:

Aug 032016
 

Time is our most valuable commodity. Meetings are often the thing that take up most of our time. What if your meetings could be more secure and more efficient? What if board members could enjoy a streamlined process of information gathering and sharing, no matter where they were on the planet?

Gemma Walford, head of Sales and Account Management  for the EU region of Convene

Strategic away day

Though many businesses focus generally on how to improve the experience of meetings, this sometimes doesn’t extend to the factors that really matter, and that will make a difference to the organization as a whole. Improving workflow practices and ensuring there’s a well-planned agenda would be two potential areas that businesses might want to look at and improve.

Making More of Board Packs

Let us take your board packs as one example.

Board packs:

  • Are substantial documents, and in some cases can run into hundreds of pages
  • Take time, and often lots of collaboration, to be put together
  • Will often be edited until the last possible moment
  • Need to be distributed securely to board members in time for them to review prior to the next board meeting

Only four bullet points, but an awful lot of work involved here. The truth is that it is also awfully inefficient, whether you look at the use of resources to print and deliver board packs, the storage of hard copies of board packs, or the need for board members to carry these from A to B when heading to their meeting.

By moving to a digital board portal all of these concerns will disappear. Your meetings become more productive, and administrative staff who spend hours on your board pack creation will usually find they have significant time to focus on other tasks.

Using board portal software means you can create, edit, annotate, distribute, and discuss information securely, remotely, and efficiently. You also get the benefit of being able to ensure specific team members only see the information that is relevant to them. Does your Training and Development Director really need to receive a 250-page board pack when there are three pages in the whole document that matter to them?

How Much Time Can Be Saved?

While it naturally changes between businesses, it is not unheard of for the time taken to collate and distribute board packs to be cut in half by going digital.

Do the quick calculation now and think about the impact this could have on your business:

  • How many people are involved in creating your board packs?
  • How many hours do they spend?
  • Cut this in half
  • What could they achieve given this time back?

In some respects this is quite frightening; depending on your current process you could easily earn the equivalent of a new employee given the time saved!

You’ve also eliminated the worry about board packs getting to their intended destination on-time and securely. Just publish the board pack online, and your board members can access right away.

The Beauty of Digital in Making You More Efficient

If your board packs are digital, and you have a digital space for your board members to work, some issues can easily be discussed prior to the meeting taking place. This means that if board member A doesn’t have a detailed understanding of a particular issue, they can discuss with board member B beforehand, and therefore save everyone else time in the meeting itself, while also ensuring they can create their own opinions and ideas in order to contribute.

This can be particularly powerful if you use a digital board space but still host meetings with everyone physically in attendance.

Board portals also mean you can share notes and annotate documents beforehand, and can easily take hours off the length of meetings. Let’s envisage you have eight board members and your meetings are two hours shorter – that’s two working days of director-level hours going back into your business.

Board Portals and Your Fresh Approach

Your aim for board meetings should be to empower your board members so that they arrive at every meeting, whether it is held in the cloud or people attend in person, having been able to assess their board packs and discuss anything that may be unclear. By far the easiest way to do this to use a digital board portal.

Use board portals and make your meetings better organized, your board members more efficient, and gain back hours of time for your team members tasked with putting your board packs together.

Gemma Walford is head of Sales and Account Management for Convene for the EU region. She has extensive experience of the Public sector and is interested in improving productivity and business change.

Azeus Convene was developed to serve the needs of boards and management teams around the world. Our focus on user experience, combined with our technology expertise, has allowed Convene to become the preferred meeting software for FTSE 100, Fortune 500, governments and organizations in over 20 countries across the globe. As a publicly traded company with over 300 employees and a strong balance sheet, we are confident of our ability to continuously improve our solutions and support our clients.

Our company has been appraised at the highest level (Level 5) of the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) since 2003. As the de facto standard for assessing and improving software processes, CMMI accreditation at this level signifies high quality of products and services as well as successful delivery of our solutions in a methodical manner.

 

Feb 152016
 

Non-Executives are key to productive boardroom conversations

Boards of directors carry many responsibilities of course, and balancing the demands on the board’s time is one of the key challenges for all chairmen.

Many well-informed commentators, such as the Institute of Directors, agree that critical roles for the board include setting direction and strategy, governing risk and monitoring performance.

For Non-Executive directors (NEDs) in particular, fulfilling these roles can be especially challenging; yet they have a unique accountability for the board’s effectiveness in these areas.

non-executivesRoots of failure

Many of the most spectacular company failures in recent years have had their roots in a failed conversation about strategy.

For example, in his book Making it Happen, which describes the failure of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Iain Martin notes how the board conversation about the ultimately fatal decision to acquire ABN Amro moved almost instantly from “Should we do this?” to “Can we do this?”

As Martin relates, an RBS director subsequently rued that the board paid insufficient attention to the critical strategic question of whether the proposed deal made sense.

What can NEDs do to improve their boards’ conversations about strategy?

Most importantly they can recognise that while their own knowledge and experience is valuable, it is often likely to be less influential in their decision making than factors they fail to recognise.

These include a whole slew of natural cognitive biases that surreptitiously drive their individual and collective judgements, such as biases towards optimism, overconfidence, and conformity, as well as the influence of framing and anchoring. These are not flaws in personality or competence of individuals; they are unavoidable human traits.

While NEDs and boards cannot avoid these biases, they can be aware of the pitfalls they can cause and take steps to minimise them through employing specific processes and techniques in their decision-making.

These include methods such as red-teaming, de-correlating errors, “pre-mortems”, and others that are grounded in research and have been proven to improve decision quality.

When specialist external consultants facilitate the board’s strategy conversation these processes and techniques are made even more effective.

The second critical conversation boards must have concerns existential strategic risk – threats that can sink a strategy or kill a company, but which are often outside the scope of enterprise risk management processes.

The first question to ask here is whether the board’s current approach is sufficient to adequately anticipate, assess, and adapt to these threats. It probably is not, for two reasons. First, audit & risk committees’ main focus is usually on the long list of other issues for which they are responsible, specifically audit, operational and financial risk and regulatory compliance.

Too often existential threats get short shrift on audit committee agendas.

Second, since most risk management (as opposed to governance) activity happens in the day-to-day operation of the business – as it must and should – the executive team’s focus is quite properly on short-term operational and financial risks.

However the almost inevitable consequence of this is a risk register that either fails to identify the key strategic threats that the board should be focused on or, if it does include them, applies simplistic estimates of their probability and impact that often categorises them as “moderate”, and thus keeps them off the board’s agenda.

Too often the consequence of these two factors is a board that believes it has effective control and delegation of risk management but which in fact is neglecting its critical risk governance role, particularly when it comes to existential threats to the company’s survival.

Categories of risk

In performing their critical risk governance role, non-executives also need to understand that they are essentially dealing with three very different categories of risk.

The first and smallest of these is the “realm of probability”, or “known knowns.”

In this realm the historical frequencies of a range of outcomes and their consequences are both known, which enables these risks to be described using the language of statistics. This makes them relatively easy to price and transfer via insurance, derivatives, or other means.

These risks are almost always identified on company risk registers. Even so, they can still cause expensive failures, usually due to quantitative risk models not accurately capturing their potential co-occurrence and/or severity.

In the more challenging and larger “realm of uncertainty”, boards confront “known-unknowns,” whose full spectrum of possible outcomes, probability of occurrence, and/or potential consequences are not, and often cannot be, fully understood. In this realm, risks are usually impossible to price and transfer.

Yet, confusingly, these uncertainties are still often described using the language of probability.

However, the probability estimates used reflect not historical frequencies, but rather degrees of subjective belief about the likelihood of a risk’s occurrence and/or the potential size of its impact.

The most frequent risk governance failures in this realm are failing to properly assess the nature of potential threats and not taking steps to adapt to them until it is too late.

The largest of the three realms of risk is the “realm of ignorance”, or “unknown unknowns.” Here directors are unaware of potential threats to the success of their strategy or the survival of their company. However, it is not the case that all of these threats are proverbial “black swans” which are impossible to foresee.

Many adverse outcomes are possible to anticipate and are preceded by weak signals hinting at what lies ahead, which too often are explained away or ignored. Hence the most important source of failure in this realm is a board’s inability to anticipate future risks.

Standing back

Non-executives are uniquely positioned to stand back from the routine, day-to-day tasks, and drive effective board conversations about strategic risk governance. Once again structured processes and techniques will help them to meet this challenge. For example, the anticipation of existential threats can be substantially improved through an understanding of the likely sources of such risks.

Study of past corporate failures reveals that the most fatal combination is one of a few common external shifts combined with failures in the strategic risk governance process.

One of our clients employed a structured and facilitated risk governance conversation to identify four threats that their board wished to focus on, none of which was described in the existing risk register. For each existential risk an adaptation or mitigation strategy was identified, along with early warning indicators and a board process for monitoring them. The board recognised that the executive team and middle management had neither the time nor the inclination to search for the often-weak early signs of existential threats that might never materialise. They realised that this critical monitoring function was clearly a board role.

Normally, such monitoring will require the help of an external, specialist service provider, which is unencumbered by conflicts of interest and not deeply invested in the assumptions that underlie the current strategy. Without effective monitoring all the difficult work that a board may have accomplished in anticipation and assessment will be undone if insufficient forewarning of an emerging, anticipated threat fails to allow sufficient time to implement adaption and mitigation tactics.

Retail signs

Consider the UK retail sector, which is undergoing significant structural shifts as previously dominant players, such as Tesco, experience the uncomfortable sensation of being attacked by competitors with both superior quality and lower cost offers.

The emergence of the low cost discounters was the early warning signal. However some senior executives dismissed this sign by asserting that: “UK housewives will never want to shop at discount outlets!”

At the time this observation appeared true. But it also became a strategy assumption that was never tested, since the steady progress of Aldi and Lidl was assumed to be irrelevant. The early warning sign was missed and when the financial crisis hit, shoppers’ preferences shifted quickly towards the discounters, and left the established mass-market chains struggling to adapt.

While this shift in consumer preference has not yet proved fatal for any mass market retailer, their failures in anticipation, assessment, monitoring and mitigation have been very costly. In 2014 Tesco experienced market share loss, a falling share price, an accounting scandal leading to a serious fraud investigation, the replacement of the chairman and CEO and reported a £6.3bn loss, it’s worst ever result and the largest reported loss in the history of the UK retail sector.

Challenge for Non-executives

The role of the non-executive is an increasingly visible, demanding and difficult one. Non-executives are expected to demonstrate independence of thought and apply sound judgement in conditions of great pressure and ambiguity.

The range of subjects that non-executives must comprehend and the pace of evolution in the breadth and depth of knowledge required are dizzying. If non-executives’ judgement is found wanting they may be held personally liable. Students of governance question the feasibility of the critical role that non-executives are now expected to play.

Is their role feasible? In his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman sets out his powerful and remarkable conclusions about the psychology of judgement and decision making, following decades of research into the topic. He concludes that it is immensely difficult for us all to avoid biases in our decision making, about which we are mostly sublimely ignorant.

Yet the constant self-questioning of our judgements would be “impossibly tedious”. Kahneman says the best that can be done is to recognise when mistakes in judgement are most likely to occur, and to take steps to minimise them when the stakes are high. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of non-executives who are tasked with governing existential strategic risk.

Yet the challenge is not an impossible one to meet. Non-executives need to ensure that their board has the right structure. Without the right number and balance between executive and non-executive directors an effective board conversation is near impossible.

They also need to use the right processes. Given the stakes and the problems, using appropriate methods and external expertise and facilitation can be of great benefit. Lastly they need to ensure that the right systems are in place, especially for monitoring early-warning indicators and learning from failures, both other’s and their own.

© 2016 Britten Coyne Partners

About the author

NeilPhotoNeil Britten CDir is a director at Britten Coyne Partners, international experts
in board strategic risk governance.

Neil is a UK Institute of Directors, qualified Chartered Director, non-executive chairman and director with over a decade’s board level experience of strategy, risk governance and strategic performance monitoring.

Prior to roles as a professional director he was Vice President for a major international consulting firm focused on strategy and strategic change and an executive with a major oil and chemicals conglomerate.

His experience spans work, in the UK, France, Australia and over 20 other countries, as an executive in and advisor to mostly large, multinational corporations in technology, oil & gas, consumer goods, manufacturing and financial services sectors. He has also acted as an advisor to private equity investors in start-ups and SMEs.

Neil has an engineering degree from Bristol, and an MBA from INSEAD.

Jan 282016
 

Does your board have directors who trust each other, are committed, are comfortable with conflict, hold each other to account and are focused on results?

DD_TwitterIf not, your board is likely to have some degree of dysfunctionality and is possibly in need of an intervention.

I have been working with boards of organisations of all sizes in all sectors for a number of years and most of them exhibit some degree of dysfunctionality,

I use a board evaluation and diagnostic tool based on the book by Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, to discover the level of dysfunctionality within a board.

The foremost dysfunctionality is; Lack of Trust – if there is no trust on the board, directors will:

  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another.
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback.
  • Hesitate to offer help outside their own areas of responsibilities.
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them.
  • Fail to recognise and tap into one another’s skills and experiences.
  • Waste time and energy managing their behaviours for effect.
  • Hold grudges.
  • Focus time and energy on politics, not important issues.
  • Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together.

The next dysfunctionality is; Fear of Conflict, The symptoms of this dysfunctionality in boards is that they will have boring meetings, create environments where back-channel politics and personal attacks thrive and ignore controversial topics that are critical to board success. They will also fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of board members and waste time and energy on posturing and interpersonal risk management.

The third dysfunctionality is where a board Fails to Commit to being a Team – this results in:

  • Ambiguity among the board about direction and priorities.
  • Missed opportunities due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay.
  • A lack of confidence and fear of failure.
  • Revisiting discussions and decisions again and again.
  • Second-guessing among directors.

Dysfunctional boards are unable to create clarity around their direction and priorities and cannot align directors around common objectives. They move forward with hesitation and are unable to learn from mistakes.

Fourth, a board that Avoids Accountability:

  • Creates resentment among directors who have different standards of performance.
  • Encourages mediocrity.
  • Misses deadlines and key deliverables.
  • Places an undue burden on the Chair as the sole source of discipline.
  • Does not ensure poor performers feel the pressure to improve.
  • Does not identify potential problems quickly by questioning each other’s approaches without hesitation.

Finally, if a board is not Focused on Results, the organisation will stagnate or fail to grow, rarely defeat competitors, lose achievement-oriented employees, be easily distracted and encourage individualistic behaviour where board members focus on their own careers and individual goals.

So what should boards be doing?

Directors who can agree with most of the following are likely to be sitting on more effective boards:

  • Board members are clear on what is expected of them.
  • Board meeting agendas are well planned so that the board is able to get through all necessary board business.
  • Most board members come to meetings prepared.
  • Written reports to the board are received well in advance of meetings.
  • All directors participate in important board discussions.
  • Different points of view are encouraged and discussed.
  • All directors support the decisions reached.
  • The board has a plan for the further development of directors.
  • Board meetings are always interesting and frequently fun.

How many of the above statements are you able to agree with?

If you disagree with a number of them, the likelihood is that you are a member of a dysfunctional board … and If your business has a dysfunctional board, it is also likely to be a dysfunctional business.

Jan 082016
 

Minutepad1

Mark Ashcroft had just parked his car and was waiting for the airport shuttle bus when his mobile phone rang. Normally he would let it go to voicemail but when he saw that it was from the new Chairman, Janice Young, he decided that he’d better take it.
“Janice. What’s up?” he asked.
“Mark, I know you are in transit, but I just wondered if you had seen the latest figures?” Janice said, getting straight to the point as usual.
“It’s a bit early for the board pack to be out, isn’t it?” Mark replied, worried that he might have missed something.
“Oh, don’t worry Mark, there’s plenty of time before the next Board meeting. No, this is just Mary being her usual efficient self and getting her finance report out nice and early.” Janice reassured him.
Mary Cartwright was the Finance Director and had been in post before Mark joined the Board as a Non-Executive Director (NED) nearly three years ago. Her finance paper was usually the first document to go into the board pack and as such was always a useful indication that the next board meeting was fast approaching.
“There are a couple of things I wanted you to have a look at in Mary’s report, I’ve highlighted them for you” Janice continued.
“Let me guess. It wouldn’t be anything to do with the cost saving targets would it?” asked Mark.
“Yes, it’s hard to tell at this stage but I think we might be going off track” said Janice.
“That’s exactly why I wasn’t keen on the cost reduction program being so back-loaded,” replied Mark. “It makes it so difficult for us NEDs to see if things are going wrong, and by the time we do there’s no time to do anything about it” he continued.
“My bus has just arrived, let me have a look at the figures when I get to the terminal and I’ll call you back” Mark said as he got onto the shuttle bus.
As soon as he got into the terminal, Mark connected to the secure Board portal on his tablet, found Mary’s finance report and started to read. He soon spotted where Janice had highlighted the areas she was concerned about and where she had made some notes.
“Hi, Janice. Mark here. I’ve got the report up on the screen and have read your notes” he said when he called Janice back. “I see what you mean” he continued.
“Yes, I think we should arrange a conference call with the other NEDs. When does your plane get in? Janice asked.
“I should be back on terra firma in about 3 hours” said Mark “It might be a good idea to ask Ken to do some graphs using these figures and from the previous reports so we can get some trend info. Can you get him to upload them into the portal so we can look at the data and make our notes against it, prior to the conference call?” he continued.
“Good idea” said Janice “In the meantime, I’ll have a word with Mary and see if I can get some more background, Have a safe flight!”.

This conversation is typical of the sort of pre-board meeting discussions that take place between non-executive directors, usually triggered by the arrival of the board pack.
Traditionally, the arrival of this set of paper board documents is heralded by the gentle thud on the doormat as the often weighty package falls to the ground from the letter box just a few days before the next board meeting.
This is followed by a frantic period of a few hours, which the non-executive director spends reading through the tome and making rushed notes in the margins as they progress. Any background research to corroborate greater understanding is often restricted to locally stored, confidential papers that the NED happens to have in their possession. Such limited access to historical information obviously limits preparation for the NED and weakens their effectiveness.
Additionally, the late arrival of the paper based board pack sometimes necessitates that this vital review is carried out during the journey to the board meeting, meaning that confidential papers and previously made notes, may run the risk of being lost or misplaced during transit.
When finally immersed in the depth of the meeting, the NED has to access those scribbled, handwritten notes, decipher and interpret them, often in the midst of sometimes-heated discussions, it is not surprising that this is not the best process for a successful, considered discussion.
These days, given the technology that is widely available to even the longest serving NED, it is no longer necessary for directors to wait until the complete board pack is assembled and posted out to them. They can read and discuss each paper as soon as it is published on a secure Board portal application; either on their desktops, laptops, tablets or smart phones.
This gives NEDs particularly, more time to discuss the content with their fellow directors, to ask for further information and to improve their understanding of the issues at hand so that their contributions at the boardroom table are well-informed, thorough and complete.

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