Harvard Business Review

How CEOs Can Work with an Active Board

At companies of almost all sizes, across all sectors, boards are undergoing a profound transformation. Largely as a result of intensifying shareholder intolerance of mediocre or poor corporate performance, the ceremonial boards of the past are being replaced by active boards that are more demanding of managers and more intrusive in their affairs.

This change can be daunting and frustrating for CEOs. However, based on our experience of advising CEOs, operating as CEOs, and sitting on boards, we have found that executives can be effective in the new environment by revamping their interactions with their boards. It consists of four approaches.

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Harvard Business Review

This Pharma Company Stays Innovative by Doing Two Things

For industries that depend on innovation, sustaining it is a constant challenge. But Roivant Sciences, a biopharmaceuticals company, bucked the trend by realigning incentives for employees and systematically introducing outside talent and practices. These steps cost almost nothing compared to vast sums often spent — and often wasted — on fostering innovation and have already generated tens of millions of dollars in value. Roivant rewards teams for raising red flags about programs they feel should be halted. And to align everyone around the success of the company, instead specific programs, every employee receives stock options. Research teams are promised new roles if their particular program or subsidiary does not succeed. In addition, the company recruited “rebel” scientists who were open to new ways of working. It also recruited talented non-scientists and charged them with coming up with fresh ideas for making the drug-development process more efficient.

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Harvard Business Review

Great Strategy Begins with a CEO on the Frontlines

Building a winning strategy begins with recognizing that strategy is too important to be delegated to a strategy department. It can certainly be valuable to have the help of strategy officers or teams on refining and implementing strategy, but the strategy itself needs to be conceived and owned by the CEO (or equivalent for a division). Otherwise, strategy often becomes a diffuse product of group thinking and compromises among multiple stakeholders in the organization.

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