small change: your operating board


small change 


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs. You can see the index build HERE.

Blog 26 small change: your operating board

small change

Seven principles

Principle 4

A shared Organisation PSB

  • shared purpose,
  • strategy
  • and behaviour in your organisation
  • is key to its success

Blog 26  small change: your operating board

your operating board

Your operating board, as opposed to your main board, leads and manages your organisation on a day-to-day basis.

Sometimes it’s called “the management team” or “the executive committee”. I prefer the term “operating board” because members of boards take decisions; those of teams and committees may or may not.

If, on the other hand, your operating board is not taking decisions using a robust decision-making process involving all members of the operating board then you may as well call it the executive committee or management team – sometimes code for the CEO’s committee or team where most of the decisions are taken by the CEO and at which members are regularly told off.

Once upon a time, I sat on an executive committee and after my first meeting “a lifer” in the organisation whispered to me conspiratorially that “you always know the new people on “the exec” – they’re the ones smiling”. Chilling but true as I learned after my first public “b***acking”. I stopped smiling.

Your operating board must lead and manage the following discrete functions, even if one person is responsible for one or more functions. In my business, as a “one-man-band”, I cover all the functions. When I fail to attend to one, my business suffers.

The following functions MUST be led and managed by one or more people on your operating board:

  • CEO:  people, growth strategy, stakeholders
  • CFO:  the numbers
  • COO:  keeping our promises (“delivery”)
  • CRO:  the sales number
  • CMO: the 4 Ps: product, price, place & promotion
  • CTO:  enabling strategy using technology
  • The GC: (in attendance) an Officer of the Court enabling better decisions through legal counsel & process
  • The Chief of Staff (in attendance) also known as HR: supporting the CEO in his or her responsibility to create an environment in which people thrive

Most of my work now is facilitating main and operating boards. I have found that in respect of operating boards:

  • board members often forget that they are unique career businesses
  • they ignore their unique career equity: CV/EQ/PR
  • they frequently are not clear on their own Purpose, Strategy, Behaviour (Personal PSB)
  • operating boards frequently do not have a shared view on organisational purpose, strategy and behaviour
  • consequently, strategy and behaviour is neither shared nor robust
  • the interdependence between personal purpose and organisation purpose is ignored
  • finally, and crucially, therefore, conflict is commonplace because members don’t go through the pain of agreeing on behaviour or “soft contracts” with each other

These are the issues I facilitate on a daily basis.

Which of them resonate with you regarding your operating board?

Ciarán Fenton

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