There is an ever increasing focus on the role and responsibilities of the board. Whenever an organisation gets into difficulties, the question is asked ‘what were the board doing?’ Being a director – or a member of any other form of governing body – is an increasingly high-profile role and the expectations placed on individual board members, by politicians, the press and the public, seem unlikely to reduce any time soon. And yet in many cases this is a part-time role, undertaken by people who, for all their skills and experience, are not involved with the organisation on a day-to-day basis, but whose role is, fundamentally, to oversee the performance of management who are.

Although high-performing boards rely on high-quality information, around which they form their judgements and decisions, in many organisations board packs are a barrier rather than an aid. Too often they are dominated by inward- and backward-looking detail, rather than the sort of information that will help the board to plan its future strategy. Furthermore, the sheer volume of information with which board and committee members are presented makes it unlikely they can read it all, let alone absorb it or pick out the key issues. Nearly three-quarters of governance professionals we surveyed believed that their board packs are currently too long, with large organisations producing an average of 2000 pages of information for their board members to absorb every year. For many, this figure will be significantly higher, and even the smallest organisations in our survey produce, on average, 750 pages of information for their boards.

Oct-Dec 2018 Issue

ICSA: The Governance Institute