Board Mining. A New Resources Boom? Tim Parker- Partner

A few months ago I was talking to a fellow traveller from the marketing services field; a highly successful Creative Director turned Innovation specialist with the “Two Brains” consultancy.

He recounted recent experiences of Innovation sessions held with company boards. Some of which had turned into something resembling a cathartic therapy session, as the true colours, ambitions, visions and concerns of individual board members were uncovered by creative thinking tools.

This resonated with me, having spent equal amounts of time on both sides of the boardroom table, as a Director and as a CEO.

And having spent more of my life than is probably healthy in board meetings, I’ve learned a couple of things:

· As a Director, a board meeting can sometimes be less than conducive to open, frank dialogue

· As a CEO, it can be deeply frustrating that such gatherings, with all their impact on executive time and energy, give back so little strategic inspiration and, frankly, useful direction.

And it’s not just me. Any number of executive managers (CEO/MD/GM’s) that I’ve spoken to have expressed the same frustration: Why, when the assemblage of experience, intellect and specific skills is so tangible, does a board all too often fail to inspire?

A common complaint (and excuse) is the (belated and welcome) emphasis now being placed on governance and compliance. Indeed, a glance at the ASIC list of “Key Directors’ Responsibilities” lists dozens of obligations and warnings, but says nothing about making a positive contribution to the business itself. Which is a shame, as the potential for the board to deliver game-changing advice is there. It just has to be tapped. Or mined.

That’s how “Board Mining” was born: by connecting the need to unlock the potential with the tools to do it. (To learn more, click here). And that’s why I’m now a Partner with Two Brains.

We realised that if we combined our decades of experience in businesses driven by applied creativity to helping company boards give better advice, we might make a big difference.

A corollary benefit is that our process means that individual board members accept specific responsibilities to contribute to the strategic challenge identified. This gives the Chair a set of KPI’s to apply to their performance- a useful tool in an environment where effectiveness is sometimes not easy to ascertain.

We at Two Brains hope that Board Mining might make its own, small, contribution to the Australian business landscape. It’s a means of tapping a resource too often under-utilised and under-appreciated. In the words of the Chair we recently worked with:

“This has been a very useful exercise, and promises to reinvigorate the board”

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