Board service is an excellent method to broaden your perspective and improve your ability to consider an organization in its entirety rather than focusing on the functional areas you have supervised. It also exposes you the wide range of problems and issues that companies confront. For instance, you could be faced with difficult decisions which affect employees negatively, such as deciding on redundancies, or closing branches. These situations require you to look at the issue at hand and not to be influenced by emotions or the opinions of your colleagues.
Another issue that comes up is how to ensure that a wide range of voices are heard in the decision-making and deliberations. Boards employ a variety of methods to achieve this. For example, some boards encourage directors to play devil’s advocate at meetings and others use the whiteboard method to brainstorm and ‘spitball’ possible solutions prior to making the final decision. This takes the decision-making process away from the individual’s personality and can assist in resource avoiding groupthink.
Boards can also boost their effectiveness by being prepared to question the established practices that have been in place for decades. For example, a number of board members are re-examining their committee structures. They question whether they are serving their purpose and provide a reliable way to run meetings. They are looking for innovative ways to identify patterns and trends that could be hidden in data and digital tools.