Building Better Boards

Here is a good article about building better corporate boards.

Perhaps the problem lies not with the people who serve on boards, but rather the structure of boards themselves, argue Harvard Business School professor Jay Lorsch and consultant Colin B. Carter. In Back to the Drawing Board: Designing Corporate Boards for a Complex World, the co-authors observe this underlying problem: Board members are time-pressured part-timers who lack the knowledge they need to successfully oversee the companies they serve. The remedy isn't necessarily in staggered terms or requirements for outside directors—rather it's making sure board members have the time and information necessary to fundamentally understand the business. And that means a fundamental rethinking of how boards operate.

This going back to the drawing board, Lorsch and Carter conclude, includes reviewing the roles boards serve, how the work is structured, the criteria for choosing board members, methods for keeping board members current, and the behaviors that lead to successful teamwork at the board level. HBS Working Knowledge's Martha Lagace recently talked with Lorsch about his findings.

It is tough because independent dboard members have limited knowledge about a company, and limited time to commit. I am interested to see how board structure changes over the next decade. I don't think Sarbanes-Oxley really did that much. But I think over time the market will demand better corporate governance, and that is where the positive change will come from.

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