Monday, 4 June 2012

Board Assessment - Challenges for year to year continuity

One of my business interests is Across the Board (ATB Governance Limited).  Together with Vanessa Williams of ClarksLegal and Josephine Crabb we have developed a bespoke approach to Board Assessment that has been applied at a major UK member organisation over the past two years.  An important tenet of Board Assessment is to ensure that the process is conducted over several years in order to understand how performance is changing. 

Our work for this organisation was prompted by a collective recognition that Board Assessment made good business sense.  Shortly before the second year of the process was initiated there were substantial changes to the organisation's management.  This posed an interesting challenge for all participants - was this the time to express their frustrations and ask for change, or should they sit tight and wait for the new management to settle in?

The interim team decided to forge ahead with the assessment so that the new board would have a better view of what they would face.  The resulting assessment has achieved its objective - the new management have been appointed and the report is serving as guidance for new strategic board direction.

Ernst & Young have recently published commentary of Board Effectiveness.  Richard Wilson, partner in charge of the Independent Director programme, suggests some due diligence questions for those considering a new board directorship:

1  How well do I understand the company's business and the business model it is following?
2  How do my skill sets and experience add value to the business?
3  How does what I bring to the board complement the experience that already sits around the board table?
4  What do I think of the chairman and am I convinced the board wil be led effectively?
5  What is my impression of the chief executive and the management team and is there enough initial engagement for me to make an assessment of their capabilities?
6  Do I have enough time to take on the appointment?

Ernst & Young publish quarterly BoardMatters.  To download a copy visit