The Reflective Chair: 365ideas4change Number 11

The Chairperson holds deep responsibility for Board performance and functionality. They are the ultimate “go-to” person; the supreme gong that must sound when governance goes off-track. Relationship manager, ego denialist, and bearer of ancient wisdom. We expect much from our Chairpersons.

An idea for what I believe would be truly spectacular value-add from the Chairperson occurred to me, heaping yet another responsibility onto their overburdened shoulders. But perhaps, not in the long term…..

Group-think occurs no matter how cautiously one guards against it. A Board is self-evidently, a group. Simultaneously, the diversity, complexity and dynamism of the environments in which business operates is increasingly volatile. Old decision-making styles might not keep up with these changes. If the Chairperson reviewed the year’s Board minutes, what patterns might they be able to pick up? I believe that ways of thinking, decision-styles, or types of decisions might become evident in this collective that would unlikely come to the fore in the reading of a single set of minutes. Perhaps certain types of decisions are always deferred, potentially inadvertently affecting the risk profile of the organisation. Perhaps one person stands out as being responsible for an unfair share of the workload. Perhaps there’s an issue that, in one guise or another, has been on the agenda for the whole year, but not yet resolved. The possibilities are endless. Becoming conscious of these subliminal patterns would be the first step to changing those that need it.

If the Chairperson, once a year, reviewed all Board minutes with the intention of detecting these decision-patterns, what might be reflected about the way the Board is steering the company?




About Julie Courtnage

With training in environmental science, I facilitate 'naked conversations' about sustainable wellbeing. Using facilitation techniques, systems thinking, art, music, writing, movement and photography, we explore the active creation of our uniqueness - personal and collective, as individuals, organisations and society - and our relationships with others, with sustainable wellbeing, and with genuine happiness. This journey of creation is a journey of Love. And fun.
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