Identifying Negative Board Pathologies
Harlan Loeb, a professor of crisis and the court of public opinion at Northwestern Law School, describes three common pathologies, or negative cultures, that he believes are hindering boards. The first is the “Culture of No.” This pathology is evidenced by boards in which too much veto power is wielded by a single member, typically the board chairperson or president. Boards with this culture are not actively seeking diverse points of view, Loeb warns.

On the flipside, boards operating under a “Culture of Yes” often reach consensus too quickly. Executing decisions then becomes problematic because the members did not take time to get on the same page and are left to squabble over details.

Finally, Loeb describes the “Culture of Maybe” as a board in which decisions are made but left open to seemingly endless debate because new information is never truly cut off. “This is likely the most destructive board culture, given that inaction results by default,” she laments.

Loeb also stressed significance of building board cultures that leverage trust and non-negotiable guiding processes. When high risks and potential crisis are in play, some boards tend to “resort to one option more often, reflecting fear masked as decisiveness. In so doing, they forfeit consideration of real options that might make a material difference to the company for decades to come,” she concludes.
Huffington Post (07/31/15) Loeb, Harlan
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