101 Boardroom Problems and How to Solve Them
by Eli Mina

ISBN: 978-08144 1058 5, Publisher: Amacom, 2009
Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*

Been there, done that, 101 times? This book will halt the vicious circle before it spins you around again.

Written by an expert in conflict management, this book will give you the skills to grapple with the most intractable Board issues. I couldn't wait for my colleagues to show some of the behaviours; I was so desperate to try some of the advice. Fortunately my colleagues are well aware of my desire for Board best practice and the advice is applicable in preventive as well as corrective situations.

Initially suspicious of the neat 101 problems in the title, I found that I could identify most and believe in the occurrence of the rest. Nothing seems to have been created to fill out the numbers or make up the word count. This book has a very down to earth and realistic approach. The language is straightforward and the advice is well written. The war stories could have come from The Director's Dilemma. They are so obviously real.

Every example of poor behaviour is followed by an explanation of the potential damage caused to the Board, organisation or individual. These explanations help with the motivation to implement the suggested solutions. Many of these solutions are simple good practice and can be implemented proactively without waiting for a problem to emerge.

There don't appear to be any common problems left out either (although if we give our board colleagues time they may prove that observation wrong; Boards are infinitely creative). The book is comprehensive as well as practical.

Perhaps the most valuable feature of the book is the Board, meeting, director and Chairperson evaluations in the appendices. These are pure gold. Each question is easily cross referenced back to some of the solutions so that, having identified an opportunity for improvement, any Board will be able to develop a plan of action for achieving it.

The most striking aspect of the book is Eli's respect for, and deep appreciation of, the directors, chairs and executives who feature in the stories. This is a man who, whilst recognising and helping to eradicate dysfunctional behaviour, clearly loves the people he meets and values their contributions to the Boards on which they serve. The combination of knowledge and fondness goes a long way to explain the success the author has as a board consultant.

Premising every observation with the need for Boards to make the best possible decisions has lifted this book out of the realms of other more commanding books and into one of its own. The vision of Boards being productive, pain-free and harmonious is instantly attractive. This book will help many Boards to take control of their own performance and will also assist many consultants to have the positive impact that they have always aspired to. No governance professional should be without it.

* Julie Garland McLellan is a professional non-executive director, board and governance consultant and mentor. She is the author of "Dilemmas, Dilemmas: practical case studies for company directors", "The Director's Dilemma", "All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector" and numerous articles on corporate strategy and governance.

Julie Garland McLellan to judge 2011 Global eBook Awards