Common practice has been for recruitment and selection of new board members to be left to the CEO or to a small group of directors on a nominating committee. This committee meets only during that period of the year when the bylaws require that directors be nominated and put before the shareholders for election.
While this approach seems easy and simple, it actually substitutes convenience for the opportunity to establish an important competitive advantage. Over the years, it’s become clear to me that the board of directors can and should be a valuable part of the core competencies of the company and a significant contributor to the company achieving its long-term goals and objectives.
Creating a board that is a key asset begins with making sure that you find the best people to join. Failure to take this process seriously can result in problems relating to oversight of management activities, delays in decision making and legal action by outside shareholders who depend on the directors to look out for their interests. (read more…)
The recent criminal indictments of 35 Atlanta school administrators and teachers at the root of that district’s test-cheating scandal show just how far some people will go when incentives are so lucrative.
Other school systems — including those in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, and El Paso, Texas — have experienced similar cheating on standardized tests. “Responsible adults” changed student answers on tests so scores would improve.
I don’t suggest the blame lies with No Child Left Behind or the current Race to the Top efforts. They are well-intended but place emphasis on reading and math test-score improvements, not on learning by students.
With increased scrutiny on test scores, those test scores went up. However, as retesting showed, test-score gains were not due to increased learning on the part of students. The gains were entirely due to test answers being changed so it would look like learning was taking place. (read more…)
If you’re a man leading people in your company, chances are that you feel somewhat stymied in how to address one of the biggest talent-management problems all companies face: How to keep bright, talented women from leaving the company before they make it into the leadership ranks.
McKinsey data shows that in the pipeline, from entry level to vice president, the average company watches about 25% of its best female talent walk out the door. They’re not all leaving the workforce, but they are leaving corporate America. This women’s leadership gap, says Joanna Barsh of McKinsey, is a “canary in the coal mine” for losses of male leadership talent in other socioethnic categories as well.
Most male leaders now understand that women are good for business and that retaining women is more complicated than offering flextime and nursing stations in the bathroom. The male leaders I talk to who want to help address this problem don’t quite know what to do. (read more…)
Your business succeeds when people buy your product or service to satisfy a need or solve a problem. You know that they are buying, but do you understand why they are buying?
You probably have a handle on buyers’ needs for current products, but customers likely have related problems that you could solve with an upgrade or a new product. You can anticipate needs only when you deeply understand current situations. How do you find out about the other needs of your customers?
Simple: Ask them.
Do not ask them in a standard customer-satisfaction survey that focuses on existing products, the transaction and customer service, where high marks mean your staff is meeting customer-satisfaction goals. I started my career with Digital Equipment Corp., which surveyed customers on how satisfied they were with the company’s products and service. “Very satisfied,” replied the system managers.
But Digital did not ask about unmet needs and so did not know that these customers were buying competitors’ solutions for new applications. (read more…)