Corporate governance, while increasingly complex, has a set of central requirements which benefit from skilled attention and, at times, independent assessment. Board development is targeted professional development for your strategic leadership team – it aims to equip your board with the tools drive improved performance of your board from the induction of new members through to the review of ongoing board effectiveness.
Our services include advising boards in: the design and delivery of orientation and induction programmes to equip board members to commence contributing from their first meeting; review of governance systems to ensure that the board’s accountabilities are being effectively structured and add value to the business; confidential effectiveness assessments to measure the contribution of members and aid the chair of the board in better coordinating director contributions for the good of the business; and, advising on methods to improve boardroom dynamics.
Thornton Mack’s team are very well placed to advise and support your Board. Not only do we have the academic credentials, we have the on-ground experience which makes a real difference to the support services and advice we offer.
When you are choosing an adviser on behalf of your board, you need to be assured that the recommendations made can be implemented without too much difficulty and that the effort will be repaid in a tangible difference to the performance of the Board. Our Consulting approach centers on understanding the situation, measuring current status, defining future goals and identifying targets for change and improvement at the outset. This up-front investment in planning means that the Consultant and Client start on the same journey together and have shared expectations. When the plan is sufficiently clear, we engage with accountable personnel to determining the tactics to be used – to ensure that they are culturally suitable to the situation. Ongoing progress measurement and checks with the Client give confidence and comfort that goals and target are still valid and can be achieved. Our toolkit of board materials; developed, updated and refined over time, provide a secure fast-start to every engagement.
Our team has worked in both executive and non-executive director roles – experience which brings a level of practical reality to our board development services. We recognise the important balance between the required independence of individual board members and the value of collaboration that drives good strategy and maximises results. Our respectful and objective, yet forthright, approach in assisting boards is welcomed by both chairs of boards and directors alike.
On the academic front, our Consultants who provide board development services are graduates of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, including a Fellow of the Institute of Company Directors. Each Consultant is an active director – living the experience on which we advise and using that experience to hone the relevance of our advice. Each Consultant undertakes continuing professional development to ensure that the experiential on-job-learning at the board table is backed by a contemporary understanding of the issues and trends affecting directors.
Understanding that each board is different, and that each sector’s context varies, you can be assured that we have someone who can work effectively with you. Our board experience ranges across a diverse cross-section of business. We have experience working on or with boards and committees of government organisations, including Advisory Boards. In the not-for-profit sector we have current board positions and/or have advised those in health care, social services and the arts. Private companies in the professional and technical services industries have relied on our skill as well as listed finance, professional and services firms.
Design and delivery of an on-boarding programme for a Government Advisory Board
In response to major national reforms in the sector, the CEO of a large state government department required a fundamental change to the focus of a key advisory board, which would comprise 7 – all new – members. Action Governing legislation, existing Advisory Board material and information on the future requirements was gathered and analysed, and staff were given guidance on developing content for the operating context. Meeting processes were developed to assist the CEO in leading board members constructively through a strategic agenda and ensure members’ skills and experience could be effectively utilised and add value to the organisation. General administrative matters in relation to government board membership were identified and specified for the Board. End result A comprehensive program for on-boarding was developed and delivered, comprising a draft charter for the new Board to debate and endorse, a comprehensive Handbook for induction and on-going reference of members, and design/delivery of a half-day induction workshop.
“It was really critical to set this board up with the right focus on performance and risk management, and big picture policy formulation. Jacqui’s experience on boards enabled this to be well targeted. All board members appreciated the professionalism of the materials and their presentation.”
Review of HR and governance arrangements
A not-for-profit Board needed to resolve staff and operational issues which were hampering the business.
Starting with a review of the Company’s Constitution, employment contracts and job descriptions, early findings encouraged the Chairman to extend the review to deal with more fundamental aspects of operations which presented key risks for the organisation. Advice on actions required and options available was provided by the Lead Consultant, throughout the assignment, to the Chairman and nominated board members. This included engagement of a solicitor to deal with legal aspects.
Activities were restructured to create flexibility within the team, increase responsiveness to company members and reduce operational and legal risk. A temporary replacement manager was sourced while recruitment was underway and a short-term company secretary was obtained to support the Board.
“I personally am grateful to you for your amazing efforts on behalf of (the company). It has been a very good learning experience for the Board and will have hopefully long lasting benefits. Thank you also for your patience, easy accessibility and complete professionalism.”
Review of business culture
18 months after the merger of three organisations into a new business the Board was keen to better understand the current culture and subcultures, from an independent viewpoint, and receive practical recommendations to help address identified concerns.
One-third of the staff, representing a broad cross-section of the business, were interviewed to gather data about their experience and their views about what was driving business performance. Participants completed a behavioural inventory,which was used to better understand how leadership was perceived, and were asked to comment on both the role and performance of the Board from their perspective. Interview and inventory data was used to develop recommendations to the Board in relation to vision and strategy, structure, leadership, performance measurement, people practices, customer service, the role of the Board, and decision making & accountability.
All recommendations were approved by the Board and the resulting implementation plan is on their standing agenda. Staff were provided with the written recommendations and a series of two-way briefings signalled the start of a tangible commitment to focus on culture as a key driver of success.