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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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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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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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Let's Get Logical

think independently Dec 13, 2020

Ever since I decided to write this blog post about logical fallacies in our boardroom debate, I’ve had this refrain going through my head. I’m hoping that by sharing it with you, I will finally be free …

“Let's get logical, logical,
I wanna get logical.
Let's get into logical.
Let me hear your logic talk, your logic talk.
Let me hear your logic talk.”

- with apologies to Olivia Newton John

But seriously, logical fallacies, which are flaws in the way we apply...

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Biases 'R' Us

think independently Nov 29, 2020

Let’s face it, a board director’s main job is to think – to think about finances, risks, strategy and people, and about all the other matters that come before a board of directors over the course of a governance year.

And while there is room around the board table for diverse thinking styles - analytical and strategic; people-focused, data-focused and process-focused; big picture thinkers and detailed thinkers; idealists, realists, and pragmatists; risk tolerant and risk...

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Don't Believe Everything You Think

think independently Oct 18, 2020

Over the years, I’ve reviewed countless proposals, reports, project plans and other documents in the course of my board work and as an advisor to boards. Somewhere in the document, often buried, there should be a section labeled ‘Assumptions.’ It lists the conscious decisions taken by management to treat the unknown as known. Typically, the list of assumptions will include finances, people, resources, schedules, logistics, etc.

Articulating these assumptions is necessary in...

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