As I look ahead to the challenges that boards will face in 2015, I am more confident than ever in NACD’s mission to help directors navigate an increasingly complex environment. Our programs and resources remain focused on helping directors improve their performance as strategic assets for their organizations. We achieve this primarily by providing the foresight to anticipate emerging issues, thereby enhancing stakeholder confidence in the board’s ability to provide effective leadership.
I’d like to briefly share with you the three critical issues that NACD will focus on this year.
1. Cybersecurity. It will surprise no one that cyber-risk oversight has become a top agenda item for boards. NACD’s latest survey found that the majority of directors are dissatisfied with the cybersecurity information they are getting from management. How well does your board understand the company’s cyber risk practices? Does your board have an established response plan in the event of a cyber-breach? These are the issues that NACD will continue to help directors resolve throughout 2015.
2. Board-Shareholder Communications There’s no question that shareholders will continue to influence boardroom agendas in 2015. In our most recent meeting with major institutional investors, we asked the participants to list their priorities for board focus in 2015. The three areas identified were: (1) focusing on “drivers” of effective board leadership, (2) holding directors accountable when investors believe shareholder rights have been undermined, and (3) ensuring communication between boards and investors are about context, not volume. We will continue to meet with both institutional investors and activist shareholders throughout the year and will share their perspectives with you.
3. Strategy. You may be wondering why strategy is on this list. Isn’t oversight of the organization’s strategy an inherent responsibility of the board? The answer is still yes. However, in an increasingly dynamic climate, boards can no longer afford to take an annual “review and concur” approach to management’s strategy. Our 2014 Blue Ribbon Commission Report strongly recommends continuous board engagement with management in the strategy development, and course correction, process. Our members’ reaction to this new – and potentially radical – approach has been very positive, and we will continue to provide guidance on this topic in 2015.
Two final notes. Our NACD Directorship 2020 initiative, which puts a spotlight on the market disruptors that will impact companies in the years to come, continues to be very popular. We will hold three member-exclusive events again in 2015. Please be sure to register early as the sessions tend to sell out.
We are holding our inaugural NACDStrategy and Risk Forum in San Diego on May 12-13. The forum will include a full day dedicated to cybersecurity, with former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge as a featured speaker. Click here to learn more about this exciting new program.
Thank you for your membership. I wish you a successful year ahead and encourage you to continue to work with your dedicated NACD Concierge to identify the educational programs and topical resources to enhance your board leadership.
Chief Executive Officer
National Association of Corporate Directors Advancing Exemplary Board LeadershipTM
When you come to NACD’s annual Board Leadership Conference, you know you’ll hear hard-hitting insights, participate in engaging sessions, and network with leading boardroom experts and peers. But this year, the conference has been designed to offer more opportunities than ever for you to connect face-to-face with today’s big thinkers and agenda-setters.
In addition to our hallmark networking-packed power breakfasts, keynote luncheons, cocktail receptions, dinners, and NACD Fellowship and NACD Chapter gatherings, the 2014 agenda features longer breaks, giving you more time between each session to connect with your fellow attendees. We’ve also added peer-exchange roundtables and learning track options, making it even easier for you to meet directors who serve similar industries, organizations, and committees—and share your boardroom concerns.
Our enhanced Social Media Lab, where social media-savvy experts will guide you through the latest technologies, tools, and trends, and Partner Showcase will include interactive displays, book signings, and plenty of space to meet your new colleagues.
In tandem with this year’s conference theme—Beyond Borders—the NACD Global Village has been designed to bring NACD members and international business leaders together to discuss emerging trends and opportunities in the global business arena.
Once you are onsite, be sure to check out our improved conference mobile application, NACD BLC Mobile, featuring in-app messaging so you can readily correspond with fellow attendees, exchange contact information, set up meetings, and more. You’ll also be able to broadcast your personal conference insights and share information from NACD’s social media sites to your own social networks.
With over 160 speakers and more than 1,000 anticipated attendees, don’t miss your opportunity to network and connect with the best in the boardroom. Reserve your seat today.
The conference takes place Oct. 12-14 at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland—just minutes from downtown Washington, D.C.
A recent meeting with NACD Chair Reatha Clark King has revealed some compelling thoughts on why good corporate governance matters and why we at NACD do what we do.
Over the last 37 years, NACD has researched, documented, and published leading boardroom practices including Blue Ribbon Commission reports, handbooks, white papers, and surveys. Our intent is to advance exemplary board leadership.
As I dug into the question of why we do what we do with directors who serve on NACD’s board, I used a classic marketing approach to define higher order, emotional benefits. A benefit-oriented discussion enables one to organize responses into a pyramid-shaped format. Product attributes serve as the foundation and subsequent perspectives provide product and end benefits, ultimately leading to emotional benefits. Capturing the emotional essence enables one to develop a sustainable, differentiated position.
When I asked the “why we do” question, I received responses such as:
To help directors make better decisions
To ensure that the perspectives of all stakeholders are heard
To do the best job I can
To represent the shareholder
To increase the value of the enterprise
While these responses are appropriate, there was an obvious follow-up question: “Well, why does that matter?” It reminded me of conducting in-home ethnography research and one-on-one interviews when I was in marketing at Kraft Foods–sessions that were typically enjoyable for me, but a bit painful for the participant.
The culmination of responses to “why we do what we do” can be summarized in two remarkably simple bullet points:
To me, this perspective is both impactful and relevant. First, the answers are brief and to the point. Second, each bullet point contains what I would describe as a lightning rod word–sustainability and stakeholder–and each of these words can have a variety of meanings depending on the audience.
Enterprise sustainability means, quite simply, that the company is around for a long time. An enduring enterprise provides long-term benefits to its employees and their families, to suppliers and vendors, to the community in which it operates, and to those who provide financing–bankers, investors, and donors. Further, enterprise sustainability means that the leaders of companies, both in the boardroom and the C-suite, remain aware of current and emerging issues that may impact these companies, and are engaged in robust dialogue about strategic implications. I call this strategic agility.
As a result, stakeholder confidence is established, reinforced, and bolstered. Regardless of how a company is structured–public, private, nonprofit, mutual, or family owned–all enterprises have stakeholders, and the long-term viability of the enterprise is overseen by a board of directors.
Therefore, everything that NACD does–from our NACD Directorship 2020® initiative to our expanding range of events, resources, and services–provides unique value to NACD members to advance exemplary board leadership. The intended outcome of all of our activity is NACD members who demonstrate a commitment to not only continuously learning, but also demonstrating the courage to question the unknown and working to sharpen their strategic agility. Once this is achieved, NACD members are poised to help create sustainable enterprises and bolster stakeholder confidence.
I welcome your feedback on this topic. Please join me in sharing your views of why we do what we do.