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Directors & Boards
2014-2015 Director Education Webinars
Rocking the Boat: The Growing Impact of Shareholder Activism and What Directors Need to Know and Do

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November 5, 2014

What Directors Need to Know about Board Evaluations, Part Two:
Moving from Fundamentals to True Strategic Value

Originally broadcast
September 18, 2014

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Featured Article

The Board's 'Seven Year Itch'
It would benefit all to have directors take a one-year sabbatical.

By Allan Grafman and Idalene Kesner

Alan GrafmanIdalene KesnerThe famous Marilyn Monroe comedy “The Seven Year Itch” examines the natural tendency of people to get bored and complacent after seven years of a relationship. Is it possible that companies and directors need to act after seven years to remove complacency and stay fresh and engaged? Let’s consider why companies and boards need to address the issue in a way that benefits all concerned.

In the Beginning

The Bible requires a seventh year sabbatical to give people and the land a respite and to refresh. This concept is considered so important that it is mentioned many times, including in Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and elsewhere. From the beginning of time a sabbatical is advocated as a good practice, leading to greater long-term vitality and sustainability.

In the academic world sabbaticals are very much a standard feature and benefit. Most universities grant faculty members a semester sabbatical every seven years for purposes of exploring new areas and building new skills to promote ongoing productivity and encourage new initiatives that help the individual. Institutions and practitioners know that time away refreshes one’s perspective and makes an individual more productive and engaged.

Read More…

In the Current Issue:

4th Quarter 2014 cover

Fourth Quarter 2014


The Next Major Risk Management Challenge
It’s secure enterprise mobility, warns BlackBerry Chairman and CEO John Chen.

Succeeding at Succession: Do This, Don’t Do That
So many boards blow it on CEO succession. Here is what they can do to improve their track record.

The Board’s ‘Seven Year Itch’
It would benefit all to have directors take a one-year sabbatical.

In This Month's e-Briefing:
(Sign up for a free subscription)

The Idea Business
That’s a business you want to be in as a board member.

By Jim Kristie

Early in my career I had a boss, successful and entrepreneurial, who gave me this piece of advice: “Jim, you have to give people ideas. Most people do not have ideas.”

Most people have ideas . . . but I know what he meant. His longstanding success was based on giving people ideas that grew sales, helped develop new products and services, started new businesses, honed new strategies, forced new ways of looking at their operation . . . in short, ideas that created value. 

Those are the ideas that are in short supply and high demand.

His advice has stuck with me all these years. It is certainly sound advice for being an editor. Editors like myself are in the idea business. We live on coming up with topic ideas and finding just the right authors to address them to create value for our publications and our readers.

And so is a board member in the idea business.

A common perception of a board member is one who simply blesses management’s ideas. But that likely has always been more misperception than reality. 

Good board members are, or should be, brimming with ideas when they walk into a board meeting. We all know that activists are coming to boards with plenty of ideas for what management and the board can do to create value. Activists can’t have all the good ideas.

In this spirit of idea generation and idea sharing, the Article of the Month in this January e-Briefing offers what could be a game-changing idea for board renewal. And Directors & Boards Publisher Robert Rock, inspired by the arrival last year of his first grandchildren, takes to the Columnist slot to share some “best practice” ideas for living a successful life that he wishes his new granddaughters to embrace. You will see that these are embraceable ideas for all.

When it comes to coming up with ideas in a governance context, Thomas Horton had it right. Tom was a past columnist for Directors & Boards and a close colleague, a former chair of the National Association of Corporate Directors, and a much-admired business leader. (He died in 2003.) Addressing the topic of groupthink in the boardroom, he wrote: “Creative ideas spring from individuals, not from groups.”

As 2015 dawns, it would be well for directors to affirm that they are in the idea business. There will be challenges aplenty to meet and opportunities to seize, so a concerted effort to bring good ideas into their boardrooms this year will be what directors need to do. As always, I welcome your comments at

Jim Kristie  is the editor and associate publisher of   Directors & Boards.

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Events of Interest to Directors

January 22, 2015
The Ira Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership and the Center for Audit Quality (CAQ) will conduct a “Discussion on Transparent and Effective Disclosure.” The program will take place at the law offices of Weil Gotshal & Manges at 767 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The half-day event will focus on the SEC’s disclosure effectiveness and will include a presentation by the SEC. The CAQ’s Cindy Fornelli and Robert Jackson Jr. of the Millstein Center and Columbia Law School will co-host. Attendance is free of charge but registration is required. For more information visit

January 25-27, 2015
This is the 10th anniversary of this national conference, "Directors Forum: Directors, Management & Shareholders in Dialogue," which brings together institutional investors, directors, management and regulators in an intimate setting designed for genuine access and interaction between speakers and attendees. Keynote speakers include Martin Lipton, founding partner of Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz; Thomas J. Ridge, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Patricia Russo, lead director of Hewlett-Packard Co.; and Jeffrey C. Smith, managing member, CEO and chief investment officer of Starboard Value LP. The vent will be held in San Diego. For more information visit .

See all events.

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