Tag Archive: team management

NACD Insight & Analysis for September 17, 2010

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Recently, interim CEOs have found themselves in the media spotlight.

This week, the Fortune magazine article “Should CEO be a Team Job?” notes that interim CEOs could be found at companies such as Borders, Sara Lee, and GM, while the boards searched for appropriate replacements. Though an interim CEO may be part of an “emergency” succession plan, boards must prepare to fill leadership roles when needed. Three to five years before a CEO transition is expected, the board should begin to develop long-term succession plans.

CEO Succession Planning - NACD According to the 2010 NACD Public Company Governance Survey (available Oct. 2010), most boards have taken the necessary steps to prepare for an abrupt CEO departure:

  • 70% include development of internal candidates
  • 69% include plans to replace the CEO in an emergency
  • 57% include long-term succession planning (three to five years before an expected transition)
  • 21% include engagement of an executive search firm to identify external candidates

To continually ensure that the current leadership is meeting the needs of the company, directors should engage in CEO succession planning. Well-timed transitions to new leadership enhance long-term shareholder confidence and value.

Where you stand, and where (and how) you sit

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Two initial disclaimers:

  1. I know almost nothing about “feng shui”, the ancient Chinese system intended to ensure that buildings and objects are properly placed and oriented.
  2. I can barely understand the full name of the newly-published scientific article, “Incidental Haptic Sensations Influence Social Judgments and Decisions”, on which this comment is based (but it sure got me thinking about how to get the best results from the vast amounts of time Directors and others spend in meetings).

Three researchers (one each from Harvard, MIT and Yale) found that our sense of “touch” or “feel” clearly influences our decisions, even when those decisions have absolutely nothing to do with touching or feeling. While you can find the entire article on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the gist of it includes such findings that people sitting in hard chairs were less willing to negotiate than people in more comfortable chairs.

So while this is not intended to serve as a call to check the comfort of the  seating in the meeting room, it is a great reminder just how much our opinions and our points of view can be affected by our comfort level, our perspective, or the lack thereof on decisions that may have great importance to our organizations.

There is a full raft of questions related to this that may be worth considering, some of which come straight from the experts on running great meetings:

  1. Where do you actually hold your meetings? Same place ‘most every time?
  2. How is the meeting room configured?  Big, imposing mahogany board table? A place or thing to share ideas?  Even a flip chart?
  3. Who sits where? Does that ever shift?
  4. How long do the meetings last?

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves.  Some of these are things we would rather not change.  We like our chairs, our views, our patterns.  We find them comforting.  But changing things up now and then helps to ensure that we really do have a full set of perspectives, much of which we simply cannot gather by sitting in the same seats, or relying on the same set of inputs.

The young songwriter, Merrily James, tells us to “Get up, go out, change your views”. In the somewhat less musical terms of the first of the NACD Key Agreed Principles, “governance structures and practices should be designed by the board to position the board to fulfill its duties effectively and efficiently.” In either case, the challenge is the same: making sure you stand up and take in the view, regardless of where or how you sit.

How do you ensure that in your meetings?  Let us know.