My initial work was as an academic, focused on companies in the midst of governance and performance controversies. Through that work I developed a core interest in the complexity, nuance, and challenges of board decision-making. I became focused on what I perceived to be an central tension in the process: boards are urged to be rigorous, independent, data-driven, dispassionate, and evaluative, but the visions of leadership teams are driven by intuition, instinct, experience, shared culture and values, and sheer conviction. The resulting schism in perspectives, expectations, language, and mindset often leads to misalignments - sometimes minor, sometimes deep. It’s been at the core of every crisis that I’ve observed and been involved in resolving.
After a dozen years in academia and policy, I pivoted to engage full time with companies as an investor, board member, board leader, adviser, coach, and occasional interim leadership team member. In the subsequent 25 years my focus has been on supporting, critiquing, and helping leaders and boards tackle key decisions - guided by the core belief that respecting visions, convictions, and culture as much as (often, more than) data, analysis, and evaluation leads to stronger outcomes.
One colleague - a former management team member at a company where I was an investor and board member, and with whom I've served on boards, was kind enough to say: "His strategic thinking, ability to evaluate the needs of both small and large companies, and his capacity to understand the nuance of how management teams interact has proven invaluable."
Perhaps more to the point: a team I've advised on multiple occasions over more than two decades refers to me as their business therapist, and, a member of another, greatly talented leadership team that I supported through a multi-year journey of dramatic value creation said to me: "you're the board member who protects us from the rest of the board."