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Oct 1, 201510:47 AMMad @ Mgmt

with Walter Simson

Boards make sense (and cents)

(page 1 of 2)

In the 1937 comic farce Topper, a young Cary Grant portrays George Kerby, a playboy attending the board meeting of his family’s bank:

Bank Chairman (reading in a droning tone of voice): “Bullion abroad and in transit, $13,202,854 and no cents.”

George Kerby, (reclining, not really listening): “No sense!”

Bank Chairman: “I just said that, Mr. Kerby.”

George Kerby: “So did I!”

This is how most of us view boards: a group that makes no sense. 

In fact, many of my entrepreneur clients do not have a board of advisors. And that’s a shame, because a properly functioning board is a great way to keep growing, keep focused, and keep out of trouble.

Actually, I’ll go even further and say creating an advisory board is one of the most important steps a middle-market CEO can take. 


The overall reason is that it’s board’s job to make the CEO, and the company, a success. Beyond that, there are a lot of specific reasons.

The first reason is accountability. CEOs need to keep their staff on task. But who keeps the CEO on task? Unless you have someone of skill, character, and focus on your side, chances are that you can let important opportunities or threats catch up to you. Many of us have initiatives — a sales campaign in a new market, or merger integration. How are those initiatives, which by their nature are just slightly outside the day-to-day, getting done?

Often, they are launched with a great deal of energy invested on kickoff, and then as the CEO’s attention is diffused over time, the energy of the initiative wanes with it.

But if you consider a company initiative nothing more than a promise to oneself to achieve an outcome, why not use the board to help you keep things on track?


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