Boards that add value are accountable for a healthy organizational future

When a board spends most of its time reviewing what happened in the past (e.g., monthly reports or budget reports), it is merely responding or reacting to something it cannot influence or change. It takes little skill or wisdom to review a report and pronounce judgment as acceptable or unacceptable. What does take skill and wisdom is the act of looking at disparate factors in the environment, seeing patterns, and determining how those trends in the changing environment affect the future health of the organization.

Boards demonstrate accountability for looking out for the investments of owners — not when they are merely pronouncing judgment on past performance. Yes, past performance can be an indication of whether or not organizational initiatives are working. But where the real value lies is in interpreting performance in the context of a rapidly changing world. Are boards willing to be accountable for envisioning a future for an organization? Or do boards believe that shareholders and stakeholders only want immediate return-on-investment and short-term, incremental gains? It is, perhaps, a chicken-and-egg discussion.

Consider this McKinsey report on building forward-thinking boards. What do you think?

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