Corporate Concinnity in the Boardroom: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: July 11th, 2015 by bobmorris

Corporate ConcinnityCorporate Concinnity in the Boardroom: 10 Imperatives to Drive High Performing Companies
Nancy Falls
Greenleaf Book Group Press (2015)
The power of creative convergence and cohesion

In First Corinthians, Saint Paul has much of value to say about the concept of “many parts, one body.” This is perhaps what Nancy Falls has in mind when examining the unique significance and potential value of another concept, concinnity, a 16th century term that refers to “the skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of different parts of something,” such as a human community and more specifically a workforce. According to Falls, “True Concinnity requires a level commitment to honesty and full engagement that not only powers performance, but creates the stuff of personal legacies of significant contribution.”

I realize that Falls’ primary focus is on what should be a cordial as well as collaborative relationship between members of a corporation’s governing board and C-level executives, especially the CEO. In this book, she offers what she characterizes as a “a new approach to making leadership teams and boards of directors work well together…It is a new way of governing and leading together that emphasizes harmony, ensures better CEO-board relations, and produces better corporate performance.”

She identifies common governance problems and outlines straightforward operational solutions for solving them. In fact, she explains that her book has been written “for the board member who wants to work well with his or her CEO. In fact, I almost titled this book How to Lose a CEO in Ten Days, because the framework I outline was born of observations of behaviors that came close to doing just that.”

My own opinion is that much (if not most) of the material, with appropriate modification, can be of substantial value to those who have fiduciary and/or leadership responsibilities for almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be. That is especially true of the ten “Imperatives” to each of which she devotes a separate chapter. Think about it. Most of the companies annually ranked among those that are most highly regarded and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest gap value in their industry. That is not a coincidence. They seem to have concinnity in their organizational DNA.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Falls’s coverage:

o Ten Common Governance Mistakes (Page 12)
o Drawing the Line Together (16-18)
o The Incredible Minimum (20)
o Where to Put Your Nose — and Other Body Parts (26-27)
o Remember the New Normal (33-34)
o Size Does Matter (39-41)
o Quality Trumps Quantity (45-49)
o Listening Generously (55-57)
o The Pooh Problem, or, Where Do I Start? (63-65)
o Starting and Restarting, with Regularity (65-70)
o Turnaround or Transformation (74-78)
o Whose Company Is It, Anyway? (84-88)
o It’s About the Stakeholders, Stupid (All of Them) 92-95
o What to Ask (107-112)
o The Complexity of Financial Information (115-117)
o NIH (Not Invented Here) 123-125
o Change Resistance Awareness (127-130)
o Get Great Professional Help (142-143)
o Why Executive Advising and Coaching Work (160-170)
o This Was Never Going to Be Easy, But It Doesn’t Have to Be Bad (176-184)
o Wisdom: Cognition, Reflection, and Compassion (192-197)

I have no quarrel with any of Nancy Falls’ concluding remarks: “In the process of driving results, the Corporate Concinnity framework’s nine practical, tangible things boards can do, combined with the tenth imperative — a way of being, of wisdom — can radically change the effectiveness of the board’s work and can drive constructive harmony in the boardroom and with the CEO and her team. The outcome will be not only vastly improved corporate performance, but also relationships that are far more enjoyable.”

However, as indicated, I think the potential value and impact of this book are greater than they may at first seem. Let’s exclude all companies with 50 or fewer employees and/or doing less than $25 million in annual sales. That still leaves tens of thousands of other companies in the United States alone that may not have a board of directors but do indeed have stakeholders with comparable fiduciary responsibilities. It is imperative that the senior-level executives in these companies have relationships with them that are also cordial as well as collaborative. These relationships should be, in a word, concinnitous.

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bobmorris