Why good board fails (part 3)

Not knowing “The Rules”

Every corporation is unique. Understanding the corporation’s constitution, both the “formal” and “informal” rules and the Board and organisational policies, procedures and protocols takes time. I have yet to serve on two Boards that are similar. Every Board and every corporation is substantially unique.

Attempting to follow practices and procedures you know from previous Board experiences may not fit the culture and environment of the next Board you sit on. In a one-on-one interview with a new Board Director of an Industrial/Construction Corporation, the leader described how he had historically taken the habit of walking around prior to Board meetings; informal chats, a quick coffee with the CFO, a couple of phrases exchanged with the COO, a brief conversation with receptionists. When he attempted this in a new, culturally-different organisation, he was finally taken aside by a fellow Board member who explained the cultural implications and the negative perception that his “constant spying” was having on the Executive. This was resolved by scheduling formal appointments, over coffee, and once the trust had been established, he received complaints from the individuals who he may have missed having coffee with at subsequent Board meetings. He did, however, learn a substantial amount about the organisation and its internal “rules” and workings which aided in making him a better Board Member.

Source: Stanton Chace, April 2017

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