EDITOR’S LETTER : Living in interesting times

It’s no secret that being director today can be stressful, complex and, at times, downright risky. Indeed, Sheffield’s recent sweep through the boardrooms of New Zealand and Australia as part of its second annual survey of director remuneration, concluded that the perception of risk involved in directorships continues to climb.
Sheffield reports that hefty 72 percent of this year’s respondents believe their risk profile has shifted skywards in the past five years. So recent initiatives to pinpoint problem areas, realign thinking and measure progress against sensible and clearly stated goals should be welcomed with open arms, right? Well, maybe. couple of new initiatives have certainly been stirring up debate.
Take the recent report by Victoria University’s Richard Norman (“When the ‘for sale’ notices are withdrawn: How should state-owned enterprises be governed?”) whose six pages have sparked lively debate surrounding methods and thinking behind how the boards of our SOEs are appointed.
It’s the subject of our cover story this month, backed up by thoughtful piece by Norman himself who has been keeping close eye on the debate from the United Kingdom where he is currently working at Manchester University.
Suggestions of tick-the-box approach to boardroom practice should provide food for thought for all directors: irrespective of whether they work for an SOE or an SME.
In this issue of The Director we also take second look at the nationwide Directions 2006 survey: an initiative that earlier this year set out to freeze-frame current director practices and thought and provide factually based picture of the current state of play.
Now, Sandy Maier and Jens Mueller – the survey’s main protagonists – are gearing up to launch two new initiatives. The first will help directors rate their own competence and that of their organisations. They’ll be able to pinpoint areas of strength and weakness and, over the years, track their own development and progress.
The second initiative is an electronic matchmaking system designed to help pair up individual directors with the best organisations for their expertise and passion.
We trust that these, and other debates and initiatives, will help lighten the load for directors who are indeed blessed with living in interesting times.

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