11th Annual Goodwin Directors Forum

11th Annual Director’s Forum Recap

The responsibilities facing the directors of public companies have grown in number and scope in recent years. Today, directors are just as likely to take up issues such as cyber threats, activist shareholder demands and regulatory compliance as they are to deliberate capital investment decisions, executive oversight and some of the other more traditional governance topics. In the meantime, the rapid absorption of digital technologies is challenging boards to consider what aspects of the business might be prone to disruption and reinvention. The composition of boards is also changing, with greater focus on director independence and diverse perspectives.

The theme of this year’s Directors Forum, “Not Your Father’s Boardroom,” was a direct nod to this evolving landscape. Held on June 1st in Boston, the event gave public company directors a chance to engage on these developments and discuss the implications for their boards’ agendas. For the second year running, Goodwin partners and Forum co-directors Stuart Cable and Lisa Haddad introduced a number of “game show” simulations in which groups of attendees formed mock boards to deliberate real-world governance challenges in an interactive setting. Called the “Emoji Challenge,” these simulations included:

Not Exactly What I Ordered…. (evaluating a strategic partnership)

Ticking Time Bomb (dealing with a cyber threat and request for ransom)

Comparing an Apple, an Orange and a Pear (evaluating company strategic alternatives)

Locking in on the Right Target (considering short-term and long-term shareholder value)

Eye of the Twitter Storm (dealing with social media and crisis management)

Ooh, Ooh, Pick Me (considering potential conflicts of interest)

Tone at the Top (providing CEO feedback)

 

The interactive and hands-on nature of these discussions has been a core feature of the Directors Forum since its first run 11 years ago. In the many years we have been advising public company boards, we have found there is no substitute for shared experiences. With so many dimensions of the business environment in a constant state of flux, boards that operate in isolation risk sticking with approaches better suited for yesterday’s challenges. As corporate governance grows in importance and the stakes become even greater, we hope the Forum continues to serve as an interactive platform for helping directors learn from each other and support the maturation of their governance functions.