There are many organisations that have no legal obligation to follow this or that regime for corporate governance. But our question remains, why do it the hard way? Instead – after decades of high-profile corporate disasters – why not learn a lesson from the experience of others: it seems far better to choose proactively to report along such lines, instead of this later being thrust upon the board, forcing the board to explain on the run what they did, when stakeholders raise questions.* As a wise high school principal of our acquaintance says – ‘better to say “I’m glad I did” rather than “I wish I had”‘.
To get your thinking started, we’d suggest that like making great coffee, good corporate governance is much more than the sum of its parts.
From where we sit, the X factor is intent, which needs to be evident throughout the necessary processes – showing the mutual will to make the organisation capable of achieving the desired results in the right way. That intent transforms what are often mundane processes into good governance, so that intent is the guiding light for:
Getting the right decisions made well, and implemented appropriately; seeing them come to fruition and thus the organisation’s purpose realised, to the benefit of those it is there serve; and doing this not just for today and tomorrow, but sustainably, so that next week and next year the enterprise can keep the promises it makes in its relationships with employees, volunteers, customers, clients, suppliers, and so on.
When the headlines are so full of staggering examples of “ready, fire, aim” leadership – or, sadly often, just “ready, fire” – we have revisited an earlier paper where we think through what good corporate governance might look like.
To be sure, there is no magic formula, no system that is a panacea for all ills in this. But we’d still say (to mix in another metaphor for good measure) – when your decision making chickens come home to roost, best they be comfortably accommodated in a nice neat henhouse, rather than losing their heads!
*PS 1 December 2017: Or, indeed, the much wider community raises questions, as many in Australia’s banking industry might now find with a Royal Commission set to dog their footsteps.