Paul Light on Governance Fads and Fancies

My friend, Professor Light, makes fun of these missives to you (and him). So to introduce our recent interview with him that appears in the Summer issue, on why sometimes you should just eat the bagels you bought for the board meeting, I offer this reflection . . .

I take a ferry in to work. Some boats in the little fleet are smaller wooden vessels and some are larger fancy catamarans with TVs for every few seats. As you might guess, I like the smaller boats. The year before last, on a foggy winter day, one of these smallish boats rammed another. The passengers were, to put it mildly, surprised and alarmed when they saw the prow of another boat rend through the wall of their own in mid-harbor. Nobody was hurt but the incident set off a media discourse on whether or not each of the boats needed to be fitted out with a state of the art GPS system. And that is where my story ends, because although I take the boat to work every day in all kinds of weather, I do not know if this GPS upgrade was ever actually accomplished.

So it is with boards. Sometimes if they are not actually imminently threatening our journey in a way that we recognize we executive directors let them be, attending to their basic upkeep but afraid of rocking the boat — so to speak. This is, of course, short sighted, since the harbor will continue, periodically, to become very, very foggy.

So, anyway, that said, the interview we have attached is from the always amusing and illuminating Paul Light. He walks us through the various strains of thinking in the current governance hoopla, offers opinions on his favorites and makes suggestions about what you might oughta do about it.