Strategic role of the board

September 23, 2021

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Governance

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John Page and Graham Nahkies recently sat down together in a BoardWorks and BoardPro hosted webinar to talk about the separate roles of boards and management when it comes to strategy.

Nahkies, the co-founder of BoardWorks who works with thousands of clients on various aspects of corporate governance, explained that the debate shouldn’t be about whether the board should be passive or active. Instead, it should be about being clear about what spaces the board should be active or passive in.

However, the relationship between the board and management, explainer Page, has to also be strong so that although there are certain areas that management is relatively more active in than the board and vice versa, there is still an alignment between the two groups.

During the webinar, Nahkies and Page also defined what “strategy” actually means, adding that the popular corporate lexicon can sometimes be misunderstood. For Page, a strategy is a constant pattern of consistent decisions and behaviour over time. What this means is that when an organization inevitably reaches a fork in the road, they know which direction to turn.

Later into the webinar, Page and Nehkies also delve into the various levels of perspective that need to be adopted by boards and management, adding that although there are times where boards need to get “in the weeds,” such as during COVID, the vast majority of their time should be spent “in the helicopter.”

“Yeah, I mean it’s one of the issues though that people come to the board often out of operational roles and being involved in the operations of the organisation gives them a perspective of what management does, but they need to recognize their job is different. Their job is … to have a holistic view of the organisation and the operating environment.”

Watch this full webinar here to gain a stronger and clearer understanding of what strategy truly means and what it means to be strategic at various levels of the organisation.

Webinar Transcript

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