How to 'cool' board meetings

By Hoai An - Sep 30, 2018 | 01:00 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERThe disagreement leads to collaboration but can also lead to friction and stagnation if not done correctly.

How to 'cool' board meetings
Alan Hepburn is a managing partner for Advisory Board Architects, Asia where he has been based for 33 years

Building and running effective board is a topic discussed at many times and in many countries. What composition and structure these boards should have and what skills boards members should have to gain high performance are still questioning that are not clearly addressed for each company.

Sharing about difficulties and challenges for a board, Alan Hepburn, managing partner for Advisory Board Architects (ABA), said that “they are usually the same in all parts of the world”.

“People start at the traditional way and when entrepreneur make company successful, they hire his/her family and friends on the board,” Alan Hepburn talked to TheLEADER on the sidelines of an event on “Building and Running Effective Boards: Roles of Chairperson  & Succession Planning”.

He said that Vietnam enterprises now have so many opportunities in the context of tremendous growth of economy and coming FDI. “More than ever, there are so many opportunities in Vietnam because the economy is growing very strongly.”

He emphasized that the challenge now is “to think about the opportunities the boards help  business. Most companies are in the potential mode, it is very positive thing.”

“Using more experience and perhaps some international directors can give some new idea to help company take more market share, make more growth. The board can be used as the tool to help company.”

Having experience in developing and operating high impact fiduciary and advisory boards for private and public companies across Asia, Alan Hepburn gave recommendation that “I would say be brave. Nobody knows everything."

“The chairperson challenges themself by bringing in diversity of idea to the board, not just diversity of people to make more healthy discussion so they can make smart decisions. If everybody have the same idea and the same experience, the idea would not be so created or so interesting,” he added.

Sharing the same view, a founder and managing partner of ABA Bob Arciniaga said that there are a lot of companies that see the board as a reporting mechanism rather than a support resource.

According to Bob Arciniaga, there are some tactics a company can used to leverage its board.

The first one is stories, an effective way to prepare to challenge and disagree with executives. The disagreement leads to collaboration but can also lead to friction and stagnation if not done correctly. Powerful questions and relatable stories build trust in order to allow more direct future feedback.

“Should ‘speak to’, do not ‘talk at’ if you want the executive to hear you,” recommended he.

The second one is campfire. “Advice fades and distorts, powerful stories resonate for years,” said Bob Arciniaga. Relatable stories allow for learning and is perfect way to highlight issues and problems. It also shows the transparency and openness which builds trust.

The last one is powerful questions, creating ‘mirroring’. He noted that the questions should be open, which reduce the sense of fear and defensiveness of the respondents.