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The Savvy Director Blog

Welcome to The Savvy Director™ blog, a place to engage on board governance topics as you travel the path to being a savvy director. 

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The HiPPO Effect

think independently Sep 17, 2023

There are no HiPPO’s in the boardroom, are there? Yes, there are when HiPPO stands for “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion.”

The HiPPO effect is when the highest paid person’s opinion carries more weight than anybody else’s in the room. That’s because we subconsciously endow highly-paid people with a degree of authority that they don’t necessarily deserve. It’s human nature to believe they are smarter, savvier, and more strategic than the...

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The Bike Shed Effect

think independently Jun 11, 2023

It’s happened to all of us. You’re at a board meeting involved in a lively discussion. But when you take a moment to step back from the conversation, you realize that the topic is rather trivial. In fact, it doesn’t deserve the time and energy that board members have been pouring into it.

Nevertheless, everyone has an opinion and insists on having their say. The discussion goes on and on, well past the time the relatively unimportant matter should have taken. It seems odd,...

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Analysis Paralysis

think independently Apr 30, 2023

How much information is enough for a board to make a decision with impact?

The best boards can make decisions without perfect information. Waiting for perfect information often results in a missed opportunity. Analysis paralysis is a description applied to the inability to make a timely decision while waiting for more and more data. I’d like to suggest that it’s just an excuse to procrastinate. (I’ve been there.)

For board directors, the good news is they don’t have...

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A Critical Thinking Mindset

think independently Oct 16, 2022

Critical thinking is a key skill for board directors. But does that mean a director is expected to be constantly negative, cynical, and hyper-critical?

Not at all.

Critical thinking isn’t about criticizing. It’s about how you approach problems, issues, and arguments. It’s about asking questions like ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ or ‘What happens if?’ It’s about objectivity, having an open mind, and relying on evidence to understand what’s...

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Strategic Thinking Skills

think independently Jul 03, 2022

Every board of directors is looking for strategic thinkers. And if you’re working on your Board Value Proposition, you’ll probably want to highlight your own skills in that area.

So, what exactly are we talking about when we refer to strategic thinking skills?

I searched in vain for a standard definition of the term “strategic thinking,” but I found there really isn’t one. Still, there’s been a lot written about how important these skills are for...

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Making Arguments with Impact

think independently Jan 16, 2022
One skill that Savvy Directors are always interested in improving is their ability to make clear concise arguments. When their board is faced with a decision, they want to express their views on the issue and try to convince their fellow directors.
Having influence in the boardroom requires good communication skills, like active listening and knowing how to ask tough but fair questions. But sooner or later every director has to speak up – otherwise you might as well pack up and...
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Banish Groupthink from the Boardroom

think independently Aug 29, 2021

You’ve read the material. You’ve seen the presentation. You’ve listened to management’s request. Now it’s time for the board to make a decision. It’s an important decision, too. You’re expecting a robust discussion.

But the room is quiet. Maybe a couple of directors ask a question or two, just for clarification. Now it looks like the board chair is about to call for a vote.

What’s going on? Groupthink, that’s what. Your board has fallen...

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Decisions, Decisions.

think independently Jul 25, 2021

We all believe that groups make better decisions than individuals. There’s power in numbers, isn’t there? Otherwise, a board of directors might just as well consist of one person.

But is it true? Do groups really make better decisions?

How do groups go about making decisions, anyway? More importantly, how should they be making decisions to improve the odds of achieving the best outcome?

And what is the boardroom reality when it comes to decision-making? Do boards really make...

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Calling All Ambiverts

think independently Jun 06, 2021

There are days when it’s just not obvious what the subject of the next weekly Savvy Director blog should be. So, we happily welcome reader suggestions.

A couple of weeks ago, Jim sent an email with a link to an article from The Globe and Mail, Introverts, time to add some extrovert skills into your repertoire.’ The gist of the article is that, to be effective, introvert leaders sometimes need to act like extroverts.

Jim’s comment was, “Interesting article. You...

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Soak Time on the Board

think independently Apr 25, 2021

“That’s a big decision. I’m going to sleep on it.”

What kinds of decisions require additional time to consider?

  • Maybe someone has made you a job offer - but it feels like it might not be the right move.
  • Or let’s say you are a CEO who needs to decide between two outstanding candidates for the CFO position. Both are great, but for different reasons.
  • Is it time for a new vehicle? Maybe it would be best to lease for the next three years. You’re thinking about...
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