When people join a board, they don't always get opportunity to understand what exactly the job entails—and what a board is really for, says Matt Fullbrook in this show.
Manager of the David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation at the University of Toronto and a board effectiveness researcher and consultant for Fullbrook Board Effectiveness, Fullbrook says providing an opportunity for better understanding of those two things is at the root of board education.
Fullbook explains that board education also goes a step further to answer the question, “How do we take that role as a director and turn it into something that has the potential to create something of tremendous value for the organization?”
It’s very difficult for anyone to create good answers to these key questions themselves, says Fullbrook, who will serve as academic director for the new High Performing Board Digital Series from CUES that starts April 13.
“The reality” of director education, he explains, “is it gives directors an opportunity on the one hand to be ... with other people who are going through something like what they’re going through, so you feel like you’re not alone. But second of all, you get to learn from their successes and mistakes.
“But also, you get access to people, educators and so on who have been thinking about this and have created and explored solutions that you may never have thought about."
Director education “gives you a whole new toolkit to bring back to your board and ask, ‘How are we going to implement this in a way that is going to empower our credit union to be better for its members on an ongoing basis?’” he says.“It opens up a whole universe of new tools and insights and opportunities for your board to do things in new and better ways.”
Fullbrook emphasizes the importance of applying director education. “The potential value of education ... is really undermined if you don’t go back ... and make an effort to ensure that it has an impact. That takes discipline.”
Putting board education into practice can’t just be a book report, where the director who attended the education says “I learned a, b, c and d.” Instead, Fullbrook suggests, the director should say something more like, “I’d like to have a conversation about how we can take what I learned and use it to make our board better. Here are my ideas.”
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