Author's Name: Mark Schultz
Date: Tue 15 Dec 2015

The New Year – what should boards be thinking about in particular?

The end of a calendar year is a good time to stop and reflect on the year that has just passed, lessons learnt, trends identified and create some consensus on what the board should focus or continue to focus on in the new year. Here is our view on this most important aspect of governance excellence.

The external business environment has continued to challenge both boards and management in 2015 and there is not much confidence that this will change during 2016. We do appear to have greater political stability and governments seem to be getting on with the job of doing what they were elected to do, so hopefully there will be less distraction and wastage at this level in the new year. From what we can control and contribute to though, here are our 3 key priorities for 2016:

  • Sustainability – is our business model right for the times in which we are operating; is our business still relevant and are we delivering a service that has a real competitive advantage as defined and valued by our customers/clients? Have we stress tested our business, undertaken a risk assessment and do we have the right structure in place? -  fundamental questions that must be answered by the board and senior management after appropriate research, analysis thinking and discussion ;  
  • Resources – do we have the capacity and capability to do what we need to do to deliver our Mission? This refers to the right people in the right job doing the right thing, adequate resources to support the business and appropriate funds to allow everyone to do their job to the organisation’s expectations; and
  • Stakeholders – do our customers/clients believe in our business, prepared to pay a fair price for our goods and services, an advocate for our business? Are our stakeholders engaged with our business, do they value what we do and support us in their own way? 

This in turn means that boards and senior management will have to be diligent in their approach, commit time and effort in the undertaking of their individual and collective roles and be prepared to hold themselves and others to account for their performance. These are the foundations of governance excellence.

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