Director Recruiting and The Baseball Draft!

March 2, 2009 at 2:21 pm

There has been a recent upsurge in the amount of online services designed to match potential board directors with seats on a board. On the surface this may seem like a reasonable and economical alternative to the traditional engagement of a Recruiter. However there are inherent limitations in the “all technology” model that become painfully apparent when it is used at one of the most senior and alas particularly visible parts of the corporation.

Director registration services allow self-selected potential board directors to sign up for consideration by companies in need of a new director. Companies, on the other hand, get access to prospective directors that meet the various objective criteria they have set out. Third party advice, intervention, evaluation and analysis are typically not part of the process or at best, optional. Without this what the company ends up with are matches made on the basis of key words and other tangible criteria. In the current environment, can companies really afford to bypass professional outside advice in favor of a computer matching system? Shouldn’t the selection of a new director be a strategic, and analytical process that involves looking at the “universe” of potentials and then selecting and ultimately recruiting the very best?

An analogy that comes to mind and one that most are familiar with is the baseball scouting process. A good baseball scout is considered the trusted advisor to the General Manager of a team. The best baseball scouts have the notable gift of being able to identify future stars very early on in their development and careers. Imagine for a moment that this process was delegated to computers. Players could register and teams could use a database to find their new talent. This is, of course, ludicrous. Nearly all would argue that there is no substitute for human intervention in the drafting of baseball players – should we expect anything less for the governing of business?

A good recruiter brings knowledge and value to the boardroom way beyond the board search at hand. The board draft process (to borrow a baseball term) should always include a strategic evaluation of the current board overlaid with the company’s strategic plans and its operating environment. Attention to company culture and board culture is extremely important for the best boards do not simply check criteria boxes, they encourage true dialogue, true engagement and robust commitment. Indeed, these dimensions and characteristics cannot be properly gleaned from a database!


Entry filed under: Recruiting. Tags: , , , .

The Board Director Vetting Process Conflict and the Current Governance Dilemmas


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