S01E09: Board Effectiveness

“There’s nothing wrong with having nothing to say at a particular board meeting, unless you insist on saying it.”

Naomi Edwards, Chair, Spirit Super

Could the ongoing Theranos saga have been avoided with a more effective board? For a board to be effective it must take a thoughtful, disciplined and professional approach to its work. It can be quantified through forward planning, efficient operation of meetings and performance assessments.

In this episode, Bridget and Cameron unpack the role AICD Not-for-profit Governance Principle 4: Board Effectiveness played in the case of Theranos, the Silicon Valley start-up that wasn’t quite what it seemed. The company touted a breakthrough in health technology through the use of small automated devices and in 2014 was valued at around $10 billion. However, the technology was not what founder Elizabeth Holmes claimed and she was charged with fraud in 2018.

Highly experienced board member and Chair of Spirit SuperNaomi Edwards, helps the team assess how a stronger focus on board effectiveness may have exposed the problems overlooked by the Theranos board and helped to mitigate the damage.

A full episode transcript is now available online.

Episode Guide:

  • 0:32 — Overview of Principle 4: Board Effectiveness
  • 5:44 — Interview with Naomi Edwards about what an effective board looks like and how this principle may have helped in the long-running Theranos saga
  • 39:29 — Wrap-up