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VIDEO: We need to bust some governance myths

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NOTE: here’s the EY survey I mentioned in the video

TRANSCRIPT:

Hi, everybody, I, you know, I know it's been a really long time since we've had any updates on the Ground-Up Governance stuff. And I promise we're thinking about you a lot. And in fact, there's a lot of cool new stuff happening, we just haven't really figured out how to describe it yet or when it's going to happen, but we'll keep you posted, you'll be the first to know, in the meantime, I just wanted to kind of loop you in on something that I've been thinking about, which is, I think a lot of the stickiest corporate governance problems, like the stuff that's kind of stayed the same. Since I started in this space, these problems that have persisted for 20 plus years. I think a lot of these problems are rooted in myths. And these are myths that they're hard to see. And if they're hard to see, they're hard to bust. They're hard to solve. And the problems that are based on them stick around. So let me give you an example. I came across an article by EY it was a report on a survey that they'd done of boards, and one of the headlines was, boards want to spend more time on strategy. Fair enough. It's something we've all thought about and heard before. And, in fact, we've all thought about it and heard about it for many, many years, I looked and I found a whole bunch of articles and surveys and papers that were saying exactly the same thing for the last 15 plus years, including a couple that I wrote one of them as far back as 2009. And I just started thinking, How is it possible that this problem that we can identify? So clearly, boards want to spend more time on strategy? If it's that clear, and it's just a time allocation problem? How's it possible that we haven't solved it yet? Right? Why don't we just spend more time on strategy and then it's over. And I started having conversations with some of the organizations I work with and classrooms and doing some thinking on my own. And one of the things that I do is I'll ask on a scale of one being deeply operational to 10 being highly strategic. Where do we typically operate? And let's say that the number most commonly is a five or a six. And then where do we want to operate is, let's say an eight. Then the next and more important question is, okay, describe an eight. What does an eight look and feel like? What specifically are we doing during a board or committee meeting or retreat or whatever that makes us feel like we're doing an eight, right eight out of 10 on the highly strategic scale. And the fact is, most of us struggle to think of what that is, it's not like the world is full of modeled behavior for us to emulate. And so the fact is, if we don't know how to do an eight, it doesn't matter if we allocate five minutes or five hours. Because during that five minutes or five hours, we don't know how to do it. And we don't know specifically what we're supposed to be doing. So I'd like to reframe this as not a time allocation problem, but a behavior problem. And my hypothesis untested is that if we spent five minutes at an eight, it's more important than spending five hours on strategy, but having it feel like it's a five out of 10. So the myth is, this is a time allocation problem. To me, that gets us a couple steps closer to a potential solution to a really sticky problem. What do you think? I'm actually really curious. Thanks for listening.

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Ground-Up Governance
Ground-Up Governance
Authors
Matt Fullbrook