Welcome to the April 2013 edition of The Director’s Dilemma.
This month our real life case study focuses on the, often frustrating, role of boards in government sector organisations and how to respond when the priorities of government don't provide quite the level of support and responsiveness that directors might wish for.
Consider: Which response would you choose and why?
Tom has accepted the role of Chairman for a controversial government authority. The authority has a sensitive project to plan and implement and needs to act fast. However, when Tom accepted the role he discussed his board with the Minister and was assured that he could have input into the selection process and, somehow, that hasn't happened. A committee was put in charge of the selection process, developed a shortlist and forwarded recommendations to the Minister before Tom found out that it had happened.
Now the Minister is under pressure to accept the recommendations and appoint the board members. Tom doesn’t know any of them personally and suspects that two of them are from opposing sides of the political spectrum (to put it politely). They all look, on paper, to have interesting backgrounds likely to give useful insights to the new organisation.
There has been some delay in the process, the appointments require Cabinet approval which hasn’t been forthcoming as Cabinet has had other priorities, and a press article has appeared suggesting that the Minister opposes the appointments.
Tom accepts that the Minister will support the nominations in due course. He also knows that he needs to build a cohesive team to govern the organisation over the next few years. He has the contact details of the directors and the Minister is happy for him to start some team building before the board is formally in place. Tom has clear authority but the other directors currently have none and Tom is reluctant to expose them to any risks but keen to get started.
How should Tom proceed?