‘Could Alistair Darling make a more impressive dent in public borrowing if he didn’t have to shell out for boards?’
To: Don Wise, chief executive
From: Paul Servant, assistant chief executive
Re: How can boards fail?
I sit here inhaling the dung-smelling breath of my esteemed board colleagues.
I listen to the Brylcreem and blue rinse generation of non-execs’ searing questioning which has all the intelligence and finesse of an MP’s expenses application. I look around and can’t help but feel we are acting as a retirement home for councillors and accountants and a rehabilitation facility for city bankers and management consultants who are looking for a new sector to screw up.
Occasionally you’ll find an NED who asks the right questions for the right reasons (“Are we safe?” “Do we care?”) but we can usually silence them by putting them in charge of a sub-committee that will eviscerate all the feelings of hope and happiness they ever felt for life, such as IT or procurement.
The board meetings themselves rarely make a decision that hasn’t been discussed and agreed elsewhere. They are never a route to uncovering incompetence and in FTs have evidently been the source of no inspiration for innovation whatsoever.
So would we notice if they didn’t exist?
Could Alistair Darling make a more impressive dent in public borrowing if he didn’t have to shell out for them? Could some of us managers go part time if we no longer had to spend hours preparing paperwork to service them with, paperwork that none of them ever seems to read?
That in itself consumes more rainforest than the toilet paper they use and is of no more value.
Ah well, on to item 33.