Despite the emergence of a sizeable corporate governance "industry," so much about boards hasn't changed at all.
The main thing that’s evolved around corporate governance during my 20+ years in the space is that there’s now an “industry” around it. What I mean is that there’s a big system of people – including me – who have found ways to make money by hanging around in the orbit of corporate governance. Think of all the money boards and executives spend on consultants, technology, education, conferences, and more. Just about all of that industry is new in the past 20 years. And honestly, that’s all good to me. The thing is, though, that if we zoom out to a system level of corporate governance, there’s so much that *hasn’t* changed despite all that investment. If we took a cross section of organizations across the Western world, a typical board meeting still looks and feels 99% the same today as it did 20 years ago. The same rooms, the same agendas, the same presentations, the same results. Just with a bit more time spent consuming governance products and services in between. Yes, maybe we print fewer documents, and our vocabulary has evolved a bit. Maybe we ask slightly more provocative questions, and maybe the people around the table look a bit less male, pale, and stale. All that is sincerely wonderful. But it’s a bit amazing to me how much things haven’t changed. Maybe it’s because everything is optimized exactly the way it is. But I personally don’t believe that’s true. I think the biggest problem is that boards, managers, and the governance industry still lack the imagination and courage to break the gravity of the status quo and imagine what it would look like to be 1000% better tomorrow than we are today. And sometimes 1000% improvement can come from a 1% change.