How to create a culture of curiosity in the boardroom

September 23, 2021

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Productivity

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For collaborative discussions to take place, boards must commit to learning and maintain an open mind.

On a recent BoardPro webinar, Governance experts John Page and Graeme Nahkies go over some basic steps to assist with moulding the culture within boardrooms so that genuine learning can take place. Throughout the webinar, both emphasised how creating this culture is no accident, and has to be consciously done.

“The predominant mode should be questioning,” explains Graeme Nahkies. “Asking questions to both obtain information, to tease out conversations, to seek different ways of seeing the world, and trying to put them together.” When speaking on the role of the director, Nahkies said that boards are, “looking for directors to understand the process of open questions, which are exploratory questions and opening.”

For both, there are several elements that board members need to remember to try and maximise the chances of a productive type of boardroom culture is created, one that sparked meaningful change for the company. This included aspects like:

  • Staying curious rather than demanding
  • Asking open questions
  • Asking one question at a time
  • Asking questions softly and gently rather than arrogantly
  • Ensuring that a conversation, not an interrogation, and being prepared to be questioned in turn
  • Not rushing the response, and instead, giving people time to think

Both Page and Nahkies explained that the board’s duties are wide ranging, however, fundamentally it is to work in a collaborative manager to empower the executive team to manage and propel the company forward.

“There's a famous saying attributed to Einstein,” says Page when speaking on the discipline needed in the boardroom, “‘If I was given an hour to save the world, I'd want to spend the first 55 minutes defining the problem.”

To hear more about the importance of learning and questioning in the right manner inside a boardroom, watch the full webinar here.

Webinar Transcript

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