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Courage needed in the face of uncertain times

Deloitte board effectiveness report

22 September 2016: Courage in the boardroom: Winning in uncertain times is Deloitte's latest Board Effectiveness series report presenting insights and practical advice on managing through, and embracing, uncertain times. Deloitte partnered with more than 50 of Australia's most senior and experienced company Directors and audit committee members across the country, through a series of workshops, to create this report.

Deloitte CEO, Cindy Hook said: "Uncertainty isn't new but a range of factors have increased complexity. Our discussions with more than 50 experienced Directors revealed that they see opportunities for companies and Australia to capitalise on this uncertainty. They also understand that courage, vision and creativity will drive-board effectiveness and better position Australian business to be future ready.”

Deloitte Managing Partner, Assurance & Advisor and Directors' Program Leader Richard Deutsch said: "What became clear in our discussions with Directors is that there will be big winners and big losers in navigating through this uncertainty. The Directors brought a sense of optimism and commitment to the conversation.”

Courage in the boardroom: Winning-in uncertain times presents seven key themes, and distils Director thinking on what’s needed to drive board effectiveness and success in the current climate:

  1. Bold, decisive leadership
    Clarity of purpose, strong strategic frameworks and effective decision making
  2. Opportunity mind-set
    An appetite for innovation, a culture that encourages experiments and embraces learning
  3. Ecosystems are crucial
    Looking beyond the borders of the organisation, understanding conduct and building trust
  4. Match fit
    The ability to be nimble in decision making, to capitalise on opportunity and be agile
  5. Culture, culture, culture
    A common understanding of vision and purpose, acceptance of mistakes, and "doing the right thing"
  6. Cracking the diversity code
    Diversity of thought and experience, bring the voice of the customer back into the boardroom
  7. Curiosity is key
    Learning from different industries and a global perspective is critical, complacency can be a killer.

There were strong views that effective Directors and boards must move beyond just working through the 'simple' and compliance-based risks and create the space necessary to deal with more complex, strategic decisions. Deferring decisions in the face of uncertainty is simply not an option.

Peter Warne, Macquarie Chairman, one of our participating Directors said: "It's never been a more interesting time to be a company Director. Uncertainty creates opportunity. Directors and boards have a responsibility to help navigate organisations through that uncertainty to become the winners of tomorrow.”

Cindy Hook said: "Bold, decisive leadership coupled with an inclusive culture is vital if we are to build businesses to successfully navigate uncertainty and respond to change."

Richard Deutsch said: "There was no fear of uncertainty amongst the Directors we worked with. In fact, most welcomed it as a driver of innovation and opportunity.”

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