BUILDING AN ANTI-FRAGILE ORGANISATION

Our physical face to face training services have been suspended due to the Coronavirus epidemic. We are currently offering online courses in Lean & Six Sigma and LIVE Online Training here.

 

WHAT IS ANTI-FRAGILITY?

"Anti-Fragility is a new way of thinking about mitigating risk. The concept of Anti-Fragility builds on earlier work focusing on the characteristics of biological systems that, being more than just robust, actually improve their resilience through being stressed. The concept was developed primarily in the context of the financial crises, but has now been applied much more broadly.

 

The fragile cannot withstand stress. The robust can, but only up to its inbuilt limit of strength, that may decline over time. Thus, like the Thames Barrier the robust is always waiting for a wave that is bigger than it, that will destroy it. The anti-fragile gets stronger by being stressed, just as I get stronger by exercising. Its strengths grows, and with it, its ability to survive and flourish.” Prof. Tony Bendell

At the Anti-Fragility Academy, we offer a wide range of services, tools and workshops which will help to improve your Board. Please see the links below for more information for our currently offered services. If you require a service that isn't mentioned below, please do get in touch as we may be able to cater directly to your needs and requirements.  To learn more please 

Skill & Knowledge Development Training for Board Members


The skills and knowledge needed to be an effective Board member are extensive and subtle. Whether or not you join a board as an expert in a particular area, it is unlikely that you will start with all the necessary knowledge and skills. Board members need to be able to understand and know how to effectively scrutinise, implement & improve a large number of aspects related to their Board role, including: - The role of the Board, and Board members, Board procedures and appropriate and effective Board conduct - Board mission, vision, objectives, strategy & strategy deployment - Company/public or voluntary sector financial accounts and broad legal & regulatory requirements - External and internal information sources for Board use, and information and data access - Board monitoring, data summarisation and analysis approaches - Leadership and team working at Board level and throughout the organisation - Board and organisational decision making processes - The Board perspective of the organisations’ operations, their efficiency & effectiveness, products & services - A Board and enterprise level perspective of risk & opportunity management - Influencing and interpersonal skills at Board an organisational level - Board leadership and the management of organisational change - Board involvement in stakeholder needs, and conflict management and resolution - Making things happen through effective implementation of Board policy and decisions - Board leadership through people - Effective time and attention management for the Board and Board members At the Anti-Fragility Academy, we believe that whilst Board members can and will learn effectively “on the job”, there are major benefits to the organisation, the Board and themselves in supporting them through appropriate & timely training. Accordingly, we offer both Board wide training and development programmes to support Board development, and individual Board member personalised training & development, though needs assessment, training & coaching.




A Range of Board Health Checks & Stocktakes


The health of the organisation and the Board should be our prime concern. Whilst health checks primarily focus on ‘is it healthy & is it working?’, stocktakes focus around the available capacity. The Board needs to be concerned with both, but in being commissioned to undertake a review, we may be asked to focus on one, the other, or both. Understanding exactly where we are, is the first step to further improvement and resolution of issues. Shortfalls in the health of the Board itself, may reflect issues such as it not being clear or unified on its own vision and purpose, it not identifying risk and opportunity effectively, nor acting on these, an apparent inability to make things happen, lack of access to necessary information, or the ability to process it effectively, or it seeing itself as having a more limited remit than its statutory and business responsibilities presents. Capacity is another key issue. Does the Board have the range and depth of skills required for its tasks? Do the Board members have the clarity of purpose, dedication and resources to do the job? Does the Chair need help in assessing current Board and member capacity, and in developing it to meet needs? Accordingly, we provide a range of Board health checks and stocktakes to meet varying needs. In all of these, we look at the status quo for the Board, in the context of the current situation and emergent trends, and compare it to the model of the Board’s role and what is needed for success. The resulting gap analysis then enables us to identify and recommend positive changes to established roles and practices. Our range of Board health checks and stocktakes includes: Independent ‘third party’ reviews of Board role and practice Stakeholder commissioned (‘2nd party’) reviews, frequently for investors or funders, focusing on specific issues and dimensions Annual Board Reviews Chairman commissioned reviews, in the context of specific issues of effectiveness or conduct The right type of health check and/or stocktake, at the right time, can be hugely beneficial for a Board, and should never be presented nor seen as a threat. Rather, forward looking Boards should choose to schedule regular reviews on an ongoing basis, typically annually, but focused on current needs. Identifying the right type of review may necessitate serious consideration and discussion, which we can assist with.




Board Development Workshops


Board development should be a standing item on Board agendas, and can contribute greatly to the growth of the Board’s capabilities and the coherence of the Board’s activities. Part of deploying this development is the use of Board Development Workshops. Board development training workshops may be instigated following a Board health check, stocktake, or Self-Assessment, or just be based on a less formal evaluation or initiative by the Chair or Board. One, or a series of Workshops, may be scheduled. The range of topics covered may include all or some of the areas identified above in Skill & Knowledge Development Training for Board members, as well as Specialist Workshops targeted on closing specific gaps in Board performance. Often, clients request Workshops related to: - The role of the Board, procedures and conduct - Board mission, vision, objectives & strategy - Financial accounts and broad legal & regulatory requirements - Board leadership and team working, although these are very much a subset of the areas that may need attention. Specialist Workshops targeted on closing specific gaps in Board performance may deal with aspects related to: - Board decision making processes - Agreed Board strategy deployment - Information sources and data access for the Board - Board involvement in Stakeholder needs - Effective time management for the Board As well as the team training needs identified above, Board development workshops simultaneously have a number of purposes, involving aspects of leadership, communication and team building. Through an ongoing Workshop programme, Board members may build both their knowledge and understanding of key aspects underpinning their role; and their commitment to the Board, sense of purpose, understanding of the relationships between individual and team roles, camaraderie, and self-development.




Board Self-Assessment Tools


Sometimes the Board is synonymous with the executive team, but in this role it needs to think and behave very differently from in day to day to operations. Self-assessment is about understanding exactly where you are, raising your awareness, keeping your eye ‘on the ball’. It is complementary, rather than an alternative, to Board health checks and stocktakes, since both approaches have advantages and disadvantages in the context of reviewing the Board’s activity. Whilst our range of Board health checks and stocktakes allow for us as an “external eye”/critical friend to look objectively at the Board’s activities and ways of working, the use of self-assessment, using a rigorous structured approach allows for the Board itself, or a subset of its members, to engage more fully in the review process. This engagement provides a meaningful opportunity for Board member development and for heightened focus in relation to issues that Board members are familiar with. Accordingly, we recommend that self-assessment should always be used as part of the review activity. The danger with self-assessment is that it is not rigorous or critical enough, so having access to a rigorous structured approach is important. For this reason, it is our policy to make available at low cost Board Self-Assessment Tools that are based on the same principles underlying our range of Board health checks and stocktakes. Even if you do not engage with us more fully in the process, these, properly used, will provide a low cost and effective review of Board activity and conduct. If required, some customisation and coaching can be provided alongside these tools, at additional cost. Alternatively, an integrated team approach can be employed whereby the self-assessment is directly supported, or possibly led, by us.




Board Development Consultancy Packages


Over and above the provision of training workshops, Board Development may be supported very effectively though consultancy interventions. Prior to intervention, we need to agree with the Board or Chair the key priorities and planned order for change. Typically, our objective in such intervention is to systematically close the prioritised gaps identified through Self-assessment or a Health check/Stocktake.
These may be concerned with aspects of: - The role of the Board, and Board members - Board procedures and effective Board conduct - Board strategy deployment - Information and data access for the Board - Board leadership and team working - Board decision making processes - The Board’s perspective on the organisation’s operations, their efficiency & effectiveness, products & services - Risk & opportunity management at the organisational and Board level - Board leadership and management of organisational change - Board involvement in stakeholder needs, conflict management and resolution - Making things happen through effective implementation of Board policy and decisions - Board leadership through people - Effective time and attention management for the Board With this approach, once issues in Board activity have been identified & prioritised, and a plan prepared, we work closely with the Chairman and key stakeholders to develop the board’s processes, activities and time-plan. Because of the Board’s role and method of working, this is typically a longer term endeavour, varying in longevity from maybe six months to two years. Such interventions typically involve a combination of planning, procedure development & implementation, and team and individual coaching, as well as monitoring & review. The ideal situation for a Board, however good it is, is that it continues to continually learn and improve further. Accordingly, regular periodic Board review, followed by appropriate consultancy intervention, can assist the Board in growing and learning.




Board Participation


To assist Good Governance long term, The Anti-Fragility Academy can provide experienced qualified Board members to help contribute to and steer the Board. Such appointees will meet all the appropriate criteria for Board membership plus, through their association with The Anti-Fragility Academy, should demonstrate a deeper understanding and practice in relation to Good Governance than is normally expected in this role. They will also have a commitment to, and an ability to contribute to, Board improvement. Such nominees may be technically appointed as long term advisors to the Board, or on suitable terms may become full Board members in their own right. Our nominated Board members can provide an ongoing long term support for improvement in Board practice by being supporters of reform, champions of the change process, knowledge holders in relation to risks, and role models who lead by example. They come from a range of backgrounds and skillsets, that can be matched to the cultural needs and facilatory support required by the Board. Appointments will typically be indefinite or for a minimum two-year period, subject to continuing to be of value. Typically, this facility is used where any pressing issues within the Board have been resolved and there is a desire to access continuing longer term positive low-key reinforcement. As an option it can be combined with all other services we offer.




The ‘Committed to Good Governance’ Health Check & Standard Mark


Being Committed to Good Governance is a positive aspiration for every organisation and Board. The ‘Committed to Good Governance’ Standard Mark has been created to provide recognition that that aspiration is real and is reflected in the policies and practices of the Board and the conduct of the organisation. Not all Boards, nor all organisations, are ready for this standard. The standard requires that the Board and Board members are fully aware of their statutory and business responsibilities and has in place appropriate safeguards to protect its stakeholders. A Health check against the requirements is available to all Boards and organisations, whether or not they wish to apply for recognised status. Good governance does not come about on its own, or by accident. It requires commitment, planning, monitoring and control. It also requires the realisation that we, and our systems, are fallible. It has to be worked for. The Committed to Good Governance Standard Mark reflects this commitment. The standard is issued for a three-year rolling period, subject to passing an annual review. To find out more about the standard, or the other services we offer related to Good Governance, contact us today.





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