We talk a lot about diversity when considering board composition.
We ask for representatives from different geographic locations, different professions and genders, age groups etc.
A question to consider however, is do we get diversity of thought?
People can live in different areas and still share common beliefs. It is also possible that men and women will agree about an issue. Although sometimes that is unlikely (smile) The board of the National Rifle Association may come from different places but share the same viewpoint.
The appointment of external or independent directors on a board can help with diversity of thought. This is why medical professions have a couple of directors who are not medical people on their boards. They get the viewpoint of people who do not drink the same Kool- Aid!
Selecting a board member or two who don’t know much about the organization can be very helpful. The question “Why do we do it this way?” is a valid one and it won’t be asked by someone who has been on your board for 5 years.
If everyone on the board is in agreement all of the time, is it possible that you do not have enough thought diversity on your board? Or perhaps you have board members who disagree but are afraid to say so – which is a different problem.
All boards want to make the best decisions – so consider diversity of thought as well as the more obvious sorts of diversity.
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