Not Today, and Not on my Watch! Motto for Independent (or all) Directors?

September 24, 2016

9th September 1965, Khemkaran Sector, the battle of Asal Uttar (Hindi for “True Response”) – a key turning point of that war with Pakistan. 18 Rajputana Rifles infantry regiment vs a whole battalion of Patton tanks of the Pakistan Army. 18 Rajuputana’s battle cry – Jai Mata Ki!! Not today and Not on my watch!! Read the story – makes your blood race and gets you committed to doing things in a way you wouldn’t have felt before. Leadership and valour were on display from the CO (then Lt Col) Raghubir Singh to the last soldier, with one braveheart Hav Abdul Hameed being awarded a posthumous Param Veer Chakra for destroying 5 patton tanks with a jeep-mounted Recoil-less Gun. An Army regiment needs to ensure it wins the battle it has been assigned – their job is do or die. Also, there’s a whole army behind it to take up the tasks that come later and after. The Top Brass of the army has to take care of those responsibilities.

Boards are a corporation’s ‘top brass’! – and so, must go beyond today’s engagement. Also, as ‘trustees’ of the shareholders’ wealth, they owe the shareholders a responsibility to exercise great care in the performance of their duties such that shareholder wealth is neither endangered nor wasted. More, positively, Directors must ensure orderly increase in revenue and profits, with calm quarterly declarations of good results that will ensure the company’s stock price stays high and grows. To ensure the company is on the right track, it is the Board’s job to keep risks to the minimum necessary. Also, while they are ensuring the company makes money doing the business it (and its employees) likes, they must also ensure the company stays within the 4 corners of the law and complies with all statutory and regulatory requirements. This is the job that the shareholders pay Directors to do.

To do this job as well as they need to, in today’s fast moving and 24-hour alert business environment, the Board needs all the technical and technological help it can get to be quick, accurate, complete, efficient and effective.

Needless to say, Boards must take appropriate/calculated risks to increase the company’s market share and profit share. For this purpose, they need tools to continuously track risk, measure it, minimise it and contain it. To do this, they will take decisions on various operations aspects of the business. To ensure their decisions are translated into proper actions – timely, completely, efficiently and effectively, they need to monitor the implementation of their decisions.

Secondly, and equally importantly, they need to ensure that while their company is making money, it is complying with all the regulatory and statutory compliance requirements.

More than ever before, now a Board needs a web-based collaborative tool to keep them informed and updated, and to help them work with each other, regardless of geographical distances or time zones.

Technology is critical for making sure the Board has what it needs to keep it abreast with the market in today’s volatile and fast-paced business eco-system! Only with smart use of Technology can Directors be confident of living the Motto – Not today, and not on my watch!

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