Board development is a service where Genius Methods engages with the Board to determine what it would like to “look like” as an effective performing Board. There is no recipe as the requirements for every Board are different.
There are some fundamentals that thread through all our work in this area that include ensuring good chairmanship and leadership, good communications, good balance of skills and challenge, effective decision making processes, quality of information, risk assessment, corporate risk management, succession planning and strategic thinking as examples.
The “tone from the top” is critical in the development and successful sustainability of an organisation into the future.
Like water, the vision, mission, values and ethics set by the Board flow downwards into the organisation.
Genius Methods supports organisations to ensure that the messages sent and received from an effective Board are those intended and are supportive of the strategic objectives of the organisation.
It is often the “little things” that can be the difference between and normal Board and a truly effective Board. We help you find those differences and support continuous professional development of the Directors.
The first step is to listen to you. Listen to what you understand about yourselves and what it is you would like to look like, aspirations, objectives and timescales.
The reason you have reached this point of desired improvement could be prompted by a short or medium term strategic change, prompted by an external factor or an internal decision to become a better performing Board.
Board Development Project
Our first step then is to correlate your current view of yourselves. This is important as often what is verbalised is not a full reflection of all the facets that need to be considered.
This process can take a number of forms and will be discussed with yourselves and together the most appropriate method is chosen. The following review options are usually considered:
- Questionnaires that are tailored for the organisation that focus on the key areas of importance
- Discussions one on one with each Director about the key issues
- Interaction in one way or another with relevant stakeholders
- Attending a Board meeting as a non-contributing party
The information is reviewed and the outcomes are shared with the Board. It is almost like looking into the mirror. We reflect back to you what you as individuals in a group have told us. This allows us to share with you the areas of alignment, non-alignment, variances to what you thought was the current position, gaps and areas of strength.
The next exercise we share is to facilitate a discussion of where the Board want to be, look like and behave like in a given time frame and what it expects to be the outcome of this change.
We ensure full contribution by all directors in the process to get full buy in by all directors. We also support an exercise that looks at each Director’s aspirations and contributions within the bigger picture of the Board.
Filling the gap
The fun part of the exercise is knowing the beginning, knowing the end and now filling in the gaps within a defined timeline.
This exercise is made up of a number of iterative steps over a period of time which can be very short and intense or longer and evolving. There is no given framework as to what happens in this chapter of development as it is unique to the organisation. What is defined is that it is your programme and you are driving the desire for change and we are there to work with you, alongside you and your day job, to make you a top performing Board.
We work on the key areas of leadership, behaviour, communication, skills and teamwork. We role play, do exercises, have working sessions, attend training on specific topics, create and work through case studies, implement changes, review the impact, engage stakeholders to support and review changes.
An area we often spend time is developing and creating the comfortable space for challenge, response and action such that it is constructive and value adding. It is so easy to challenge for the sake of a question that adds little value and we often see challenge presented in a non-constructive manner. Executives are trained and given the skills to understand a challenge, respond correctly and constructively and provide the Board with real assurance rather than reactive re-assurance that is meaningless.
Risk management – here we are referring to corporate risk management not operational risk management. The Board needs to take a considered, outside the box review of the operational high level risks but it also needs to consider the less quantifiable, less likely risks that could impact reputation and sustainability of the business. This is a skill seldom practiced and we bring to this exercise skilled knowledge to facilitate learning how to think risk outside the box.
Director professional development
The Board is team that is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore the more skilled and competent the Directors the better performing the Board will be.
We give Directors the opportunity to review their own abilities and desires and support their training as a member of a cohesive team. This may evolve into a degree of coaching or mentoring in the short term focused on their improvement as a member of the team.
We provide team work training sessions which are programmes and projects aimed to provide each Director with the skills needed to work as a member of the cohesive team. These are very powerful and always enjoyed.
At relevant stages of the project we review progress from the starting point to the desired objective.
This ensures full engagement and commitment and allows for the programme to be altered and tailored to remain totally focused on the desired outcome.
This kind of project could be a sum of 5 days over a month or a programme of 2 days a month over 6 months, or 14 days over a year – it really depends on what you aim to achieve by when.
In a nutshell
For a period of time Genius Methods becomes your technical sounding board, your coach, your professional advisor, your conscience, your driver, your facilitator, your knowledge bank and to each Director – a mentor to share thoughts. We transfer learning, skills and techniques to you throughout the project and render ourselves redundant as quickly as possible. Genius Methods leaves you competently equipped with the tools to progress.
We remain available whatever the need.