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Back to the Drawing Board: Designing Corporate Boards for a Complex World Hardcover

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Back to the Drawing Board: Designing Corporate Boards for a Complex World + The Future of Boards: Meeting the Governance Challenges of the Twenty-First Century + Boards That Deliver: Advancing Corporate Governance From Compliance to Competitive Advantage
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (November 21, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578517761
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578517763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,040,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a practical and ethics-infused approach that manages to be both readable and credible." -- New York Times, November 30, 2003

"[an] excellent book." -- Financial Times, November 26, 2003

About the Author

Jay W. Lorsch is the Louis Kirstein Professor of Human Relations at Harvard Business School.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Back to the Drawing Board will be of most value to those who have never sat on a Fortune 500 board or been present during the meetings of one. Much of the current concern about boards reflects a lack of understanding of how they operate. By reading this book, you will get a good sense of what the average and better boards are doing . . . and what their continuing problems are. A unique resource in the book is a survey of 150 CEOs around the world concerning their perceptions of how to improve boards. Although the total is too small to be statistically meaningful, the directional evidence will help many to see what the most glaring issues are.
A second audience for this book will be independent chairs of boards and chairpeople/CEOs who want to improve the effectiveness of the boards.
A third audience for the book will be neophyte directors getting ready for their first meeting.
A fourth audience for the book will be those who want to improve governance practices through legislation and regulation.
As a management consultant who is often asked to speak with public boards about shareholder perceptions of company management, strategy and performance, I found the material accurately reflected my experiences. Boards are overwhelmed, overscheduled, undereducated and often uncoordinated in addressing key concerns of the enterprise and its stakeholders. I had no disagreement with any of the descriptive materials that begin the book. They are valuable addition to the literature. If the book stopped there, it would have been an excellent book.
The prescriptions though that the book makes fall short of what is needed when you get past the idea of building a board and processes to fit the tasks appropriate for that board.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dave Kinnear on September 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Carter and Lorsch have noted that "around the world, scandals and company failures have provoked a storm of criticism and well-meaning reforms. In response, a variety of 'best practices' have emerged, but can such ad hoc adjustments fundamentally change the capacity of boards to provide good governance?"

I attended a Forum for Corporate Director's meeting featuring Professor Lorsch from Harvard Business School - it was an outstanding morning filled with additional insights, confirmations, and new ideas concerning corporate governance. This excellent book extended that rewarding experience and will likely be a constant reference in my corporate governance work. Carter and Lorsch have extensive research (included in appendices) behind their suggestions for change in corporate boards. In a refreshingly clear writing style, they expose the gap between theoretical board design and the practical results of board design. Further, they acknowledge that these gaps cannot be closed completely, nor can they be legislated out of existence. Instead, as always, we must rely on the women and men who sit on boards to have a deep understanding of their mission, the boards mission, a commitment to integrity, and knowledge of the workings of their executive suite.

Back to the Drawing Board is laid out in a logical manner, and approaches this complex issue of properly designing boards in an equally logical manner. The face, head on, the issue of increased time and energy that will be required of new board members. The clearly address the issue of independent directors and squarely address the advantages and disadvantages of independent directors versus executive directors. They also address the concerns of the executive director who, in many respects is required to sit in judgment of her boss.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Back To The Drawing Board: Designing Corporate Boards For A Complex World addresses what expert professional consultant Colin B. Carter and Harvard Business School professor Jay W. Lorsch see as the greatest challenge facing corporate boards today -- that many national and international corporate boards are composed of member with limited knowledge of the companies they must be responsible for, and too little time to make even the most crucial decisions. Recommending a major corporate board of directors redesign based on experience and a "what works" approach, Back To The Drawing Board offers methodologies that can be customized for each unique corporate board of directors to the benefit and bottom-line profitability of the corporation and all who serve it. Back To The Drawing Board is a strongly recommended revolutionary analysis with emphasis on practical needs and reasonable expectations.
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