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Board impact — Thinking differently about boards

Published on: 25 May 2017

Are boards worth it? The best way to demonstrate that boards matter is to show their impact. This opinion piece explores what positive impact looks like, the qualities of boards that have a positive impact and how to go about measuring or evaluating that impact. 

What does positive impact look like?

Positive impact crosses over the board’s stewardship and supervisory responsibilities – and remember just because an organisation is successful does not mean that success is driven by the board. Executive directors on high impact boards will have stories illustrating ideas, plans and initiatives that have changed for the better as a result of board-level scrutiny and debate. 

The qualities of high impact boards

Although diverse, there are qualities that often shine through for boards that have a positive impact on their organisations. Some of these include:

  • The board continually reviews its own capabilities to ensure there is a broad and diverse mix of skills and experience
  • Directors work effectively together, trust and respect each other and strike the right balance between support and challenge
  • The board is outcome focussed, assuring itself that key decisions have been implemented and had the positive impact that was intended. 

Evaluating the board’s impact

When done well, board performance evaluations can be an effective tool for measuring board impact. However, many board evaluations are flawed and do not fully assess the impact the board is having on the company. The report explores ways of fixing this, including bringing in external perspective from outside stakeholders and others.

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