What purpose does a Board serve?

Who is allowed to ask the question, why does this board exist and to whom is it accountable?

Purpose, when framed by shareholder primacy, was easy. Make sure the board creates and delivers value and wealth for the shareholders; almost at any cost. The skills, processes, practices and values needed were largely simple and financially driven/ rewarded. Much has been written about the topic and the theory forms the basis of the practices that control where we are today. The fundamental fabric has now changed. Indeed shareholders never owned the company and real-time trade removed a belief about responsibilities and ownership. It has to be said that these ideals were only a mechanism we created to exercise accountability and responsibility controls. However, those controls and beliefs are now themselves lost. By example, audit is broken and does not work.

  • When reframing the purpose for a board, based on 2020 reasons for a business to exist, of which there are many, but:
  • when framed for say sustainability, becomes complex. Sustainability for whom, what metrics, skills, data and who decides?
  • when framed for say ESG, becomes complex. ESG for whom, what metrics, data and who decides?
  • when framed for eco-system survival, become complex .....
  • when framed by the provision of help, service and support, it becomes complex 

Questions I am sat on?

Are boards working for us?
Who is "the us" you framed in the last question?
Of whom are you asking the question and what voices are you not listening to?

Perhaps we need to start with a question. What is the one clear purpose a board exists in this instance? Is it say for Accountability OR Better judgment and who decides? Who decides, who decides? 

IMHO it is this latter question we appear to have lost, leaving me to ask if a board can ask itself, and truly reflect on it own effectiveness?  In the absence of oversight are we left with transparency?