20 ideas to make bored boards look innovative

September 29, 2020 Share this article:

By Julie Garland-McLellan, Consultant at AltoPartners Australia and non-executive director and board consultant based in Sydney, Australia.

Bored Board Cartoon

Okay — I was feeling mischieveous this morning. There is still some sense in what I wrote!

If your board has done any of these 20 things you should seriously consider the potential for ridicule and reputation damage and implement immediate risk management!

1. Set a tight WAP (Walk Away Point) — Walk away from any investment or project that needs time to become self-sustaining. Don’t worry about sunk costs — they are gone.

2. Enhance board diversity with a deceased person — Gender diversity is so last year. Stretch the envelope by recruiting a director with no pulse.

3. Get fresh ideas from outside your company or industry — Google motivation or inspiration and hire the most outrageous speakers to address your annual conference.

4. Get into wellness — Healthy staff are more productive. Paint your corridors like running tracks and encourage staff to jog from meeting to meeting.

5. Hire a celebrity chef to cook staff meals — Okay, this isn’t innovative. Law firms have done this for years. Why waste all those otherwise billable hours letting staff off the premises in search of sustenance?

6. Get rebranded — Prove that you are serious about change by hiring a well-known firm to design a new logo that radically reshapes perceptions.

7. Get reverse mentored — Fearful that you will be left behind as millennials start to enter the boardroom? Get reverse mentors.

8. Host a petting zoo party in a start-up hub — Take your team to Stone and Chalk, or Fishburners, or The Studio, or WeWork, or wherever you can find people who seem to enjoy a challenge. Demonstrate how serious you are about innovation by drinking fair-trade coffee or craft cider.

9. Hot desk? What Desk? — Save on your rent bills by keeping staff in their own homes. Covid friendly!

10. Invest in a VC fund — This will save the time required to analyse your own investments.

11. Invest shareholder funds in early stage companies — Make sure that these really are innovative by excluding anyone with a tangible product or positive cash-flow.

12. Launch start up hub — You don’t have an innovative idea of your own? No problem! Invite a few start-ups to move in. Take your staff away from their own jobs and get them to help the start-ups with theirs.

13. Make a mosaic with Post-It notes — Draw a two by two matrix and label the axes ‘audacity’ and ‘expense’. Give everyone five post it notes and ask them to write an idea on each one and then stick them onto the matrix in the appropriate quadrant. Ignore any ideas that aren’t in the top right-hand quadrant.

14. Make the CTO Responsible for Innovation and Digital (I&D) — The board has never understood a word he or she said. They must be innovative!

15. Recruit someone who failed fast and failed often — Fail stands for First Attempt In Learning, right? Invest in someone with a good track record of failed enterprise. Statistically they must be due some success soon

16. Redesign the board agenda — Set up a committee to define a robust process for defining what comes to the board and what can safely be delegated. Use a methodology that is entirely subjective as objective measures might be considered elitist and exclusionary.

17. Seek and destroy perverse incentives — Remuneration is contentious these days. If you weight your incentives to non-financial measures, you are accused of encouraging indolence. If you give people concrete goals, you will be accused of tolerating a win at all costs culture. It is safer not to use incentives. If that is too radical, implement a ‘group dividend’ instead. Serve craft beer at the AGM to avert a negative vote on the rem report.

18. Shake up the senior executive team — No senior executive team worth the shareholders’ salt is content with the old CEO, CFO, CMO, COO, and CHRO titles. Have a Chief Passion Instigator, Head of Applause, Wellness Oracle, get the word ‘sherpa’ into at least one title and make sure, if you bring another woman into the C-suite, that she has a groovy name like 9gag or Apple.

19. Stimulate internal competition — Amazon released the Kindle, even though it competed with the paper books that were its main product. Apple released the iPhone, which cannibalised the iPod. Create teams within your business whose aim is to destroy the profitability of existing products and services.

20. Talk the talk before you walk the walk — Bone up on the latest Buzz Word Bingo terminology. Don’t talk about being cost conscious; go lean! Get a voice coach to help you pronounce that you are pinging emails, pranking colleagues, and picking low hanging fruit. Get the latest techno-lingo dictionary and be sure to use every word in it.

If you are still reading, your board is in serious danger. Take an anti-sarcasm pill immediately. Then hire Julie to help you perform better. She will give you practical proven ideas for good governance without any passing fads and untested innovations.

This post was first published here