Ambiguity the culprit when things go awry – Part IV

As mentioned earlier in this series of blogs, conducting the board skills and diversity exercise has both immediate and longer-term benefit, the latter dealing with succession planning.
That’s the focus of Section Sixteen, where we put in place measures to ensure that when members retire or resign, the composition of our board is handled in a proactive fashion, thus increasing the chances of achieving the diversity required to do the organisation justice.

In Section Seventeen, we turn the spotlight on ‘Board Performance Evaluation’, with the recommendation that the performance of the Board, chair, the members and the various board committees are evaluated each year – and according to an agreed process.

I’ll skim over what’s in the next three chapters – Eighteen, Nineteen and Twenty – as, while focused on the CEO, they essentially contain information that has more or less been covered under other headings.
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Ambiguity the culprit when things go awry – Part III

A reminder what we’re all about as we reach the halfway mark in our crusade towards clarity – we’re listing those topics that should form part of and be dealt with in detail in a Board Charter.

Section Eight takes us to ‘Board Skills and Diversity’, where the charter will list the skills and diversity the board requires if it is to meet the organisation’s strategic needs.

To arrive at this list, we’ll first need to identify the skills we’d require to have the ideal board.  By comparing them with those already brought to the board by the existing members, we’ll soon see where the gaps are – information that will become very important when replacing a member who suddenly resigns or planning for succession. Continue reading

Ambiguity the culprit when things go awry – Part II

Continuing with our crusade towards clarity – and ever mindful that ‘as clear as mud’ creates chaos – let’s start by exploring Section Four and its subject matter of ‘The Board Role and Functions’, which traditionally contains general, overarching explanations about the primary roles and functions of the board.

It delves into matters such as accountability, strategy, risk, the performance of the CEO and all the other main high-level responsibilities.

In Section Five, we look at ‘Office Bearers’, those public officers such as the Company Secretary, and provides a concise position description for each.
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Ambiguity the culprit when things go awry

My experience, over a good number of years in the governance field, is that the vast majority of board members are dedicated and committed people, desperate to do the best possible job, eager to serve on an effective, successful and respected board.

I’d go so far as to say this applies to 90 per cent of the men and women on Australian boards – but I’d also hazard a guess that when and where things go awry, there’s one common thread, 100 per cent of the time.

Clarity. Or, more to the point, lack of it.

Thankfully, there’s a readymade solution and it comes in the form of a document. Continue reading

DGA launch signals new era in data governance

You may have seen a report earlier this month about the establishment of a new independent body tasked with setting industry standards around data.

You may have noted, too, how important a focus is being placed on the new group, with its head none other than the highly respected former chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Graeme Samuel; and the launch being told that “setting industry standards for the use, collection and application of data is something that cannot be avoided much longer”.

This is a significant moment for those of us who operate in the governance space as the formation of the new body, Data Governance Australia – or DGA – is overdue recognition that data and its handling is now very much a governance matter.

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It’s time to blow the whistle on negative connotations


Now there’s a word to conjure up a raft of emotions, almost every single one of them negative.

That’s quite ironic as I believe the term was coined back in the 1970s by US civic activist Ralph Nader to avoid the negative connotations associated with words like “informer” and “snitch” – and in the Australian vernacular, “dobber”.

Before moving away from the semantics, may I just say how much I personally detest the word “whistleblower” as the act itself should be one overflowing with positivity and celebrating undeniable and admirable ethics.
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The board’s policy when it comes to policy-making

It is widely accepted as one of a board’s primary responsibilities – and it is also a rather straightforward task…which makes it all the more surprising that boards, generally speaking, seem to be so universally mediocre at it.

‘It’, of course, is the board’s vital role in policy-making and, more to the point, giving life to the policies, making them top-of-mind and integral to the company’s culture and behaviour.

I’d like to highlight just two of the more common pitfalls in this regard and offer a few simple, tried-and-tested measures that are sure to remedy them.
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