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Governing through shock and opportunity

It has been a whirlwind since Covid-19 became a glimmer of an issue. From a board member perspective, I am struck by how swiftly and deeply we became involved in the operations of the business. That has been my experience of the two organisations I am involved with - and necessarily so. In the last few days, however, I've been thinking about drawing back and reasserting the longer view, beyond the shock and crisis to the recovery and opportunity. Searching for wise words to aid reflection, I thought I would share three readings that helped my own reflection.


"The personal and moral collective compass of a board and executive"

From an article on Boardagenda.com

, aptly titled, the role of the board in times of distress, the message is clear - work together, support each other, challenge and inquire, in order to ensure sound, collective decisions. Whilst dealing with great uncertainty, the article encourages a twin focus on employee wellbeing and stakeholders, which I take to include audiences / customers.


"Optimism and courage: these qualities are needed more than ever as leaders make the decisions that will shape the next normal"

Many are talking about the 'new normal' and the qualities and skills required to navigate that future. Mckinsey.com

look at this in detail and speak particularly about the importance of optimism and courage in leadership. As a 'relentless optimist' (someone once called me so), I wholeheartedly agree. But I also see major shifts in customer behaviour and in funding / resources in the non profit sector, which are particularly challenging for smaller organisations. This leads me to the final reading.


"Our non-profits (and our communities) need good boards more than ever"

Oh yes! But it is hard, especially for voluntary boards, who are time poor. This blog from BoardSource

offers 12 principles, which can help with governance in times of crisis. My top three at this moment are:

- ensuring a constructive partnership between board and chief executive

- being mission driven and making choices based on purpose

- revitalising the board, as the opportunities and challenges that face us, mean that fresh skills and diverse talents are needed around the board table.


Finally, I'd like to acknowledge the colleagues at the organisations I'm involved with, the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy

and of Q Theatre
- such different entities but filled with passionate, resilient and talented people.




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