Welcome to the Home of BoardsCount Panorama™
Now is the time to commit to developing your board
We offer four options – and some other ideas to help you:
- We can bundle your report with a facilitation package.
- Once you have your report, we can prepare a presentation on the key issues and facilitate a board workshop discussion, using a tried and tested approach.
- In this way, we’d help you agree a governance development plan, committing your board to work on the big issues that will strengthen the governance of your organisation.
- If surveys aren’t your thing, try a process based on the same approach but using interviews instead.
- We can interview each of your board members, by phone or in person, drawing up a slide-pack report of the main headlines, as in the facilitation package.
- We can facilitate a board meeting or away day to help the board arrive at an agreed development plan for the year ahead.
How do you know your board counts?
How do you know your board is providing the leadership and good governance your organisation needs? To what extent are you complying with the Code of Good Governance for your sector?
Since the buck stops with board, all boards need to know how good a job they are doing….and be active about addressing their collective development needs.
BoardsCount Panorama™ enables you to create a development plan for your board that is systematic, research-based and based on your board members’ views on the issues that count. It can also help you check your board’s compliance with the Code of Good Governance for your sector.
If you want to support your board move to the next level, BoardsCount Panorama™ is the tool for you.
It’s as easy as…
- Enrol – you provide us with the details of all participants, some facts about the organisation, the time-scales you’re working to and pay the service fee.
- Board members complete the questionnaire – Your board members (and other board-level participants) are automatically invited complete an easy and thought-provoking questionnaire online. We even send them weekly reminders, so you don’t have to worry about that.
- Download your report – On the agreed date, you download your elegant report in PDF form, all ready to bind and distribute to your board, so you can discuss the findings and agree a governance development plan for the year ahead.
BoardsCount Panorama™ helps you assess systematically how your board members see the key governance development issues. It can also help you assess governance against the Code of Good Governance for your sector.
BoardsCount Panorama™ provides depth of analysis – in an accessible format
BoardsCount Panorama™ is robust yet easy to use:
- It confidentially surveys each board member’s views on the key topics in an engaging way.
- The questions are structured around a framework from published research.
- We collate the results for you automatically, so you download a tailored report online, which provides you with easy to access graphs and gauges that illustrate the key findings.
Your report provides you with an accessible summary of the key points, but lets you explore the detail too:
- We have designed the report using charts and graphs to help you get to the key points quickly.
- You can also easily ‘unpeel’ the data, Area by Area, Topic by Topic and even Question by Question.
- We provide you with notes to help you understand your findings, and provide you with a simple governance development plan template, so that you can create a governance development plan for your board.
BoardsCount Panorama™ provides the tools to develop the top leadership of your organisation:
- Your report provides you with a systematic assessment of what board members see as the strengths of your current governance approach – and the areas that may need to develop.
- Your report is a diagnostic as well as a data summary – it provides a clear and visual summary of the key issues – and the detailed data to help you analyse things in depth.
- Your report enables a constructive discussion at the board to agree a governance development plan, based on robust, yet unattributed evidence, so it can feel safe to discuss ‘how we are working together’.
BoardsCount Panorama™ has additional benefits:
- It can help you assess the compliance of your governance with the code of good governance for your sector.
- As a client, you have your own dashboard, so you can monitor progress and manage the timing of the process.
- Now, for the first time, BoardsCount™ is available fully online – at an affordable price – in a range of options.
The questions participants answer
The questions are designed to facilitate reflection and to stimulate ideas
The overarching question that BoardsCount Panorama™ aims to answer is a simple one: to what extent does the Board lead the organisation by providing it with direction, accountability and good governance?
To evidence this overarching question, there are three simple question Areas (I, II & III), from which, in turn, twelve Topics flow (A-L).
Each topic has a number of Questions, which board members answer.
To what extent does the Board lead the organisation, by providing direction, accountability and good governance?
(I.) To what extent does the Board work on the right things?…In terms of:
- Planning and envisioning.
- Holding the organisation to account.
- Organisational sustainability.
(II.) To what extent does the Board work in the best way?…In terms of:
- Constitutional and governance arrangements.
- Assessing Board performance.
(III.) To what extent does the Board work with the right people?…In terms of:
- Board composition.
- Board renewal.
- Board member development.
- Board member performance.
- The issues covered in the questionnaire are all ones that we researched and published some years back (Treading the Boards: A self-assessment framework for Board Performance, Housing Corporation 2001). To provide great governance, boards have to drive their own development, since they are the final authority in the organisation. But, since this can be tricky to do well, a self-assessment process needs a supportive framework to avoid subjectivity or, that curse of a weak board, groupthink – too easily agreeing without sufficient challenge. So, the structure of this questionnaire is a set of tiered questions that boards can use to help assess how well they are doing.
- Our online questionnaire isn’t just a questionnaire. While we are indeed collecting data and analysing that data to provide you with an analysis of the issues, the process is also an opportunity for board members to reflect on their board and their own board role, knowing that all their colleagues are doing the same thing at the same time.
- So, the questionnaire is structured in a way to enable board members to think about the big issues. And we report back to you using this structure.
Cracking your Code of Good Governance
Good Governance adds value, but…
There’s little doubt that good governance adds value and that funders or shareholders or other stakeholders are interested in knowing about the quality of governance. However, the value of good governance can often be hard to prove, since the lag between a good decision here or a challenge averted there can take time to show up in the bottom line or lines of organisational success (and it can often be hard to attribute a particular decision back to the board anyway).
‘…much more attention needed to be paid to following the spirit of the Code as well as its letter.’ (The UK Corporate Governance Code, 2010)
On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence that poor governance takes value away. In its series of studies of social housing organisations that had come under special regulatory scrutiny in England, the then regulator of the independent social housing sector, the Housing Corporation, showed (Learning From Problem Cases) that whatever the regulatory concern may have been, in every case there were weaknesses in governance.
But you don’t need to go into the depths of research to discover the calamity that weak corporate governance can bring. From scandals of fraud in large corporations, such as Parmelat or WorldCom, to the failure of weak boards to challenge runaway, risk-taking executives, in the case of the banks in the UK, governments and regulatory authorities have attempted to put in place mechanisms that can guarantee strong governance and high levels of public trust.
Mechanisms to improve Governance and Public Trust
These mechanisms include consideration of the structures of governance, the rules with which governing bodies and governors must comply and the softer approach of inviting boards to adhere to a set of principles expressed in a Code of Good Governance.
‘To follow the spirit of the Code to good effect, boards must think deeply, thoroughly and on a continuing basis, about their overall tasks, and the implications of these for the roles of their individual members.’ (The UK Corporate Governance Code, 2010)
Developed structures (such as the system of two-tier boards in continental Europe to reflect the interests of multiple stakeholders in any enterprise) or rules and laws that encode a set of detailed practices may help in a range of circumstances, but they fail to address the question of how any group of particular individuals actually behave around the board table. Yet, this is where the work or governance is delivered.
In his penetrating assessment of the governance of UK banks following the 2008 banking crisis, Walker found that it was not so much questions of governance structure or the absence of laws, rules or regulations, but the psychology of the boards that was at fault. Put simply, while they may have followed the letter of the law (or code or regulation, etc), they failed lamentably to follow its spirit. In other words, their behaviour wasn’t up to scratch.
Not the letter but the spirit of good governance
Walker found that such boards were far too keen to ‘norm’ around a dominant view, for example of the Chief Executive. They not only lacked the independence of mind and rigorous challenge that should be there, they also lacked the means of knowing how weak their governance performance in fact was: their mechanisms for appraisal, both individual and collective, were insufficiently developed to provide the evidence, the benchmarks and the insights about how their behaviour and practices should develop.
So, while it may not be a recipe for success in governance, success can more easily be predicted if boards take a more rigorous approach to self-assessment of their performance and have a governance development plan that shows how well they are doing and what exactly they are working on to improve the quality of their collective endeavour as a board.
This enabling or behavioural approach to good governance was previewed back in 2001 with the publication in the social housing sector of Treading the Boards: a Self-Assessment Framework for Board Performance. This is now out of print, but as the lead authors of that report, we can show you how to obtain a copy. Contact us.
Codes of Governance
So, this is where Codes of Good Governance come in. By now pretty much every country and every sector has its own code of good governance. Following any new scandal or policy shift, such as the Walker Report in the case of UK corporates, they are updated regularly. Their goal is not so much to provide a set of rules, but a set of principles against which a board can assess the quality of its governance.
There is of course a tension here: the more detailed the code is, the more like a rule book it becomes and the more the spirit of working towards living a set of principles becomes lost. However, by contrast, the closer a Code remains to pure principle, the harder it is for boards to get a grip on how they should actually change their practice or behaviour.
But the big point is action: boards should adopt the code most relevant to their sector and demonstrate how they comply with it, explain how and why they don’t yet, and agree a governance development plan to improve their performance in any less developed areas.
And this is not meant to be a tick-box process, but a lived and felt response to learning and developing: following the spirit of their Code and not just a narrow interpretation of its letter.
The Approach of BoardsCount Panorama™ to Codes of Governance
The approach of BoardsCount Panorama™ is to provide an analysis of your board’s performance against a clear overarching framework, originally developed for the publication Treading the Boards: A self-assessment framework for board performance. It is a framework that would be applicable to all boards, whatever their sector.
And so, with BoardsCount Panorama™, we can offer, in one service, not just this authoritative approach, but also an assessment of your board’s governance against the code of good governance that you have adopted.
For now, we are offering this code check in our Code-Check Plus options for the following sector’s codes:
- Excellence in Governance: a Code for Members of the National Housing Federation.
- Good Governance: A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector
- Good Governance: A Code for the Voluntary and Community Sector Version for Small Organisations.
It should be emphasised that these assessments are intended to be indicative, but by no means definitive. This is for two reasons.First, the assessment is based on the views of the participant’s in a survey-based approach, not an external audit or inspection and board members may not be aware of some or other critical weakness of their current governance – or strength.
Second, in any event, our assessments are intended to provide pointers to your board’s strengths as a governing body and areas which may require attention, but the onus is on your board to use the evidence our report will provide to help the board frame its own sense of where its development priorities lie. In other words, we supply the information and you take responsibility for your own development – but with our support.
We will be happy to develop assessments against other Codes, according to client demand. Please get in touch to discuss how we can support you further.