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Better Boards is specialised in working with executive, governing and supervisory boards, their executives and their leadership teams – because this is where any organisation sets its course for value creation.

The audit approach employed by Better Boards is evidence-based and has a proven track record. The criteria used relate directly to how the organisation in question can create greater value, and do not address generic management skills that could apply to any organisation at any level.

The approach uses one-to-one interviews and an innovative, resource-friendly online tool that takes on board feedback from the widest possible range of respondents, enabling a fully comprehensive and objective analysis. What makes board and senior management teams effective enabling them to create optimum value for their organisations? Better Boards is widely accredited for having identified the 7 pillars of successful boards i.e. the variables that are instrumental in the success of executive and governing boards. The variables are the fruit of detailed and cutting edge desk and empirical research, together with diverse and practical experience. They form the basis of the Better Boards Audit approach:

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At the end of the audit, four documents are produced that summarise the results and sets out the action plans:

  • An aggregated group report containing a comprehensive analysis, provided to all team members.
  • An individualised report provided for each individual participant.
  • An individual action plan for each team member, drawn up by Better Boards in collaboration with the individual concerned.
  • A group action plan for the whole team, drawn up by Better Boards in collaboration with the whole team.

All feedback is completed anonymously. Interpretation is objective and based entirely on the data and facts obtained from the audit.

Ultimate responsibility for a company’s success lies with the board and senior management, however, corporate development programmes often exclude these groups. Most standard programmes are not designed for the board and senior management but are suitable for lower levels of management. Yet, it is this group who is most crucial for the value creation process in the organisation.

In practice, many board and senior management teams address this shortfall either by sharing information and experience with other people performing similar roles, or by finding someone within their social circle with which they can discuss issues that concern them.

It is much more difficult for an active board member to review the status quo, identify strengths and weaknesses and find areas for improvement than it is for an outside specialist. Big changes must be instigated by an external party with specialised expertise and knowledge to identify the right levers that need to be pulled. Without systematic and professional support provided by external experts, well-intentioned initiatives can soon stall and fail.

The Better Boards audit and development programme is designed to provide value and distinctive benefits for the individual participant, the organisation and their investors:

Benefits for the individual participant

  • Better Boards provides individuals unique and specific insights into how there are perceived in their role as a member of the board in a concise format and level of detail they have never seen before.
  • The results are invaluable for developing their executive board career and help to bring out the best in themselves.
  • You will understand the variables that make a board / leadership group more effective.
  • You will strengthen your position on the board and within the organisation, by both understanding how others see you in your role and by embracing the variables that really matter.
  • You will learn how to align how you view yourself with how others see you.
  • You will gain a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and how these relate to your work on the board and in leadership committees.
  • You will learn how to accelerate your personal development at the top of an organisation in a goal-oriented manner.

Benefits for the Organisation

Organisations also enjoy a myriad of benefits by working with us because Better Boards:

  • Provides better understanding of the variables that make executive, governing and supervisory boards and their leadership teams more effective. Leaders and managers therefore know where to start to improve performance and create even better value.
  • Shows whether leadership committees have the right combination of talents, expertise and personalities and where committees can benefit from additional expertise by recruiting new members and/or delegating responsibilities.
  • Exposes strengths and weaknesses in boards and leadership committees and reduces the risk of conflict, and unsuitable appointments and task delegation.
  • Establishes a feedback culture within the leadership committees, based on which leadership committees and their members can cooperate constructively, develop continuously and create superior value.
  • Helps to establish more effective work processes at top decision-making levels within organisations.
  • Reduces the risk of losing top-talent and expertise undermining value creation.
  • Reduces dependence on external consultants, because stronger boards and committees are able to resolve their own issues.

Benefits for Private Equity Investors

The Better Boards partners have a wide range of experience in the private equity sector. They have worked as C-Level managers, operating partners, board advisors and consultants. They have worked with companies owned by private equity investors and in private equity companies. Better Boards processes are custom-made to the specific requirements of the private equity industry.

By working with Better Boards, private equity firms

  • Improve their position vis-à-vis their own investors (Limited Partners).
  • Reduce risk.
  • Are able to pay back loans acquired for transactions faster due to faster yield generation.
  • Set themselves apart from their competitors.
  • Bring about an improved starting position for the next fundraising event.
  • Strengthen their position as reputable partners for senior investment managers.

Better Boards also offers its services to the supervisory board committees of portfolio companies and offers specialised training for investment managers. The training units provide the necessary expertise required for managing the executive board committees effectively, improving performance and  implementing the value creation plan quickly, sustainably and seamlessly.

The requirements for executive boards and other senior management levels in companies owned by private equity investors generally differ from those of other companies. 

Investors typically rely on shorter time spans to implement their investments and have higher yield expectations. Private equity firms generally appoint a new chairman of the board or managing director/CEO early in the transaction process and frequently appoint so-called “Serial CEOs”. These individuals assemble their teams from internal and new managers, resulting in a constellation of experienced and inexperienced managers.

Leadership personalities must therefore operate under exceptionally high pressure in order to create value within a short timeframe. They have to learn how to establish an effective working relationship in the committees between managers with private equity experience and others that are not used to dealing with Anglo-Saxon managers and investors.

Leadership personalities must ensure that senior management, investors and the governing / supervisory board work together in a coordinated and effective fashion.

Leadership personalities must also implement successful change management when, for example, the business model is modified, parts of the companies are acquired or split off, new markets are explored or cost-cutting programmes are implemented.

The Better Boards partners have a wide range of experience in the private equity sector. They have worked as C-Level managers, operating partners, board advisors and consultants. They have worked with companies owned by private equity investors and in private equity companies. Better Boards processes are custom-made to the specific requirements of the private equity industry.

What we do:

  • Help create and/or improve mutual trust between the executive board, supervisory board and investors and/or business partners.
  • Improve interaction between the three parties.
  • Improve communication and collaboration between the parties.
  • Ensure that parties share the same goals and a common vision.
  • Help to create a value creation programme based on a goal-oriented focus, prioritisation and management efficiency.
  • Help to define the characteristics of CEOs, other board member and senior executives to complement the existing team.
  • Develop personal and board action plans that are linked to the value creation process.
  • Facilitate quick and effective integration of new CEOs, other board members and senior executives.
  • Help leadership committees to focus their energies on achieving goals and creating immediate and sustainable value.

“I was sceptical, because we’d already had all sorts of consultants here. But it was really good, because all the critical points that affect our work here on the Executive Board were touched on, and everyone has a personal action plan which he or she can implement.”
(Executive board member – MDAX)

”Without this process we would’ve just complained about things, and might even have become personal.”
(CEO – MDAX)

“I’ve never thought so intensely about my work on the board. I’ve become aware of a number of things, and interaction with our investor is now so much more enjoyable.”
(CEO –  Mittelstand with Private Equity Investor)

“Now I understand my colleagues much better. Our communication has become more effective, and we’re also more transparent and open with each other. I now feel that it’s back to being much more about the company as a whole, and that we’re no longer wasting our time fretting about each other.”
(COO – Mittelstand with Private Equity Investor)

”I now understand what I have to do to be a really good member of the board. I know that I will benefit from these insights in the years to come.”
(COO – MDAX)

The Seven
PILLARS OF EFFECTIVE BOARDS

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