Are you a director, senior executive, investor, or someone who‘s just curious about corporate governance? Tune in for insights about how things work inside and outside the boardroom, based on 20 years of experience and interactions with thousands of directors from around the world. Each episode lasts about one minute and will provide you with questions to ask yourself, your board and your management team, designed to optimize the way your organization makes decisions.
Matt Fullbrook is a corporate governance researcher, educator and advisor located in Toronto.
BONUS: What corporate governance resources are *really* missing (plus, an analysis of the top 500 albums of all time)
Ever feel like most corporate governance resources are...just not that awesome? Ever wonder why the heck they aren't better? Matt Fullbrook has, too.
In another long-ish scripted episode, Matt explains that he thinks he's figured out what's going on here...and also talks at length about Rolling Stone's top 500 albums of all time. It all (mostly) makes sense. Promise!
Full transcript here: http://groundupgovernance.substack.com/p/another-bonus-podcast-what-corporate
BONUS: Good governance is basically about feelings (long story alert!)
This is the first and only episode of its kind. A long scripted story about life, death, snacks, Reconciliation, feelings, The Matrix, the desert, and good corporate governance.
FULL TRANSCRIPT HERE: http://groundupgovernance.substack.com/p/bonus-podcast-good-governance-is
202. Season 4 Finale
Well, we’ve made it. 49 conditions, why they matter, and a little bit about what to do about them. That was the headline of season 4 of OMG: what are some conditions we might cultivate as corporate leaders in service of making decisions. But there’s also an important subtext, at least for me. The subtext is this: “I was wrong.” To be fair, I’m pretty sure I continue to be wrong, but at least now I’m aware. If you’d played the last 52 episodes of this podcast for me even 5 years ago, I’d have basically just scoffed. “Who has time for any of that nonsense when there’s so much work to do, so much at stake, so many boxes to tick, etc.?” Is how I imagine I might have responded. But now, having gone through the work of conceiving, writing and recording this season, I’m more convinced than ever. Just think: 49 conditions and it barely scratches the surface of what’s possible. Even so, if we were interested in how they might affect our decisions and intentional about cultivating them for ourselves, for our peers, for those affected by what we do…just imagine. We’d show up and be more cognitively activated, better informed, more socially cohesive, more efficient. It almost feels like cheating, but I promise it’s not. I think we’re just finally zeroing in on what actually matters in corporate governance. I don’t regret being wrong for (ugh) 21ish years, but I sure am glad to be more right than I used to be. Thanks SO much for listening to OMG. I really want to know what you think of what we’ve done this season. PLEASE consider subscribing and, even better, leaving a review through your podcast platform. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me through my website mattfullbrook.com. See you again in season 5, whenever that is.
201. I’m so fancy (Condition #49: Formality)
If there’s any part of my overall vibe, and of season 4 of OMG in particular, that you find a bit annoying or immature or naïve or whatever, I bet it’s that I’ve got this general optimism that the business of corporate leadership can be more fun and less formal. Actually, it’s not just that it CAN be more fun and less formal, but also that it SHOULD be! As in, the formality of the status quo is working against good governance. I really, sincerely believe it. Trust me, I’m not trying to undermine the seriousness of the jobs of executives and directors. This is not a joke to me, and there are very real and important consequences to doing the job poorly. But honestly, that just makes me more confident that we’re on to something here. We have absolutely no evidence suggesting that the typical solemn formality of boardrooms is any good. And we have plenty of evidence from the science of decision-making that we should be experimenting and socializing and finding ways to create space for a diversity of approaches and perspectives. So, I suppose what I’m saying is that a defining characteristic of a great board is its willingness to let go of formality – even in the environment of a regular board meeting – when doing so will serve the decisions at hand. Do me a favour, start thinking now about how you might cultivate the conditions for a bit of play or wonder or experimentation at your next board meeting, even just for a few minutes.
200. None of your business (Condition #48: Side conversations)
Because of the accidental bonus episodes I mentioned last episode, here we are at episode 200 (yay!) but we still have this one and two more to go this season. Here we go: Many of the boards I’ve met feel more than a little anxiety about conversations that happen outside of the confines of the on-the-record parts of board meetings. You know what I’m talking about. “Look at those three over there: always gossiping about something.” And it’s true! Side conversations can be exclusionary, faction-forming, and suspicion-arousing. But they’re also entirely unavoidable in a normal human environment. When people are together, they tend to group and hang out and chat. Can we all accept that it’s not an inherently bad thing. The problems come from information asymmetry, relationship asymmetry, exclusion – intentional or otherwise – of specific individuals, and the potential for inscrutable deal-making. It’s obvious how all of these things can impact decisions. The most important first step is to, like, actually talk about this stuff. Concerned about something? Say so – without accusing anyone of anything, please. Feeling left out? Say so – again, without accusation, please. Have some ideas about how to manage or bridge the potential problems? I promise you there are others in the room who want to hear them. Want some other ideas, check out the article Back Channels in the Boardroom by Gardner and Peterson in HBR September 2019. Just promise me you won’t let things fester.
199. Can we talk for a minute? (Condition #47: Facilitation)
Something weird has happened on OMG. I just realized as I’m recording this episode that I have too many episodes! That means you get two bonus episodes in season 4. Hooray? Anyway, I bet you’ve found yourself in lots of situations in your life where you had to make conversations happen. Maybe an uncomfortable lull at a dinner party. Maybe you’ve been voluntold to lead a meeting. Or maybe it’s just your job to get in rooms and get people going. No matter your approach, there’s a pretty high probability that at least *someone* in the room found you annoying or boring or corny or whatever. Why am I so confident? Because there’s NO way to facilitate a conversation in a way that guarantees universal adoration. Making matters worse, there’s quite a bit of evidence that the more we do to be loved, the less likely it is that our audience will learn and retain anything. In other words, edutainment is basically junk food: tasty but substance-free. It’s true! The more we do as facilitators and educators to provide our audience with shortcuts to immediate results or success, the better they will evaluate us, and the less they will retain in the long-term. So, in some ways, the best facilitators are willing to sacrifice the adoration of the crowd – at least a little – in favour of leaving them with the tools to succeed in the long term. Whoever is facilitating your boardroom conversations, and for whatever purpose, the greatest gifts you can give them are thoughtful feedback, patience, and a commitment to your work. There’s a hidden message here, though, which is that facilitation does matter because discussion matters. If you’re starting to feel like your board meetings are mostly info dumps, a bit of edutainment probably wouldn’t hurt.
Tim Herron - Curious Director
These short, encapsulated, to the point missives hit the spot are a daily reminder of what our role is as a director. Matt, continue to point out the less than obvious things.
Given governance is such a massive and little known landscape, I really appreciate Matt distilling key ideas and covering such a broad range of subjects. Brilliantly done. Thank you.
Thank you for doing this. A short form podcast will be a great way to stay with the top issues that a board faces.