Board Diversity: Beyond the Backyard?

From Wall Street to Main Street, organizations are striving to diversify their boards of directors. The belief is that trustees should reflect and represent the varied constituents they serve.

An irony of boards’ seeking to reflect their communities is that they often have to look outside these communities to find diverse trustees—whether diverse is defined by gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or other criteria. “This just gives them a much larger pool of potential candidates,” says

Honoring Healthcare Trustees Who Honor Their Communities

Hospitals and health systems today are looking for high-powered, high-energy boards to help them deal with the seemingly unlimited challenges brought on by healthcare reform. They require healthcare trustees with exceptional talents and commitment. “Yet when it comes right down to it, healthcare is still about people and communities,” writes Charles W.B. Wardell III, Witt/Kieffer CEO, in the introductory note to this year’s Modern Healthcare Trustee of the…



Readers’ Choice: Witt & Wisdom’s Top 13 for 2013

2013 was a year of tremendous growth and change in healthcare, higher education, academic medicine, the life sciences, IT, not-for-profit, and the other industries we serve, giving leaders in those areas plenty of challenges. While Witt & Wisdom strived to cover trends and transformations along these many fronts last year, the following 13 blog posts were, according to our click data, the most widely read. (We’ve listed them in chronological order by publication date).



CEO Compensation Strategies: Getting Literal about Incentives and Severance

Healthcare CEOs are used to having various incentives built into their compensation packages. Traditionally, however, these incentives related loosely to the organization’s financials, or if a measurement related to institutional quality, it tied primarily to patient satisfaction.

No longer, says Andrew Chastain, managing partner of Witt/Kieffer’s Southern Region. Today’s healthcare executive compensation packages are about “literal outcomes,” he says. Boards use compensation strategies that involve…



Recruiting Board Members: Should You Add Outsiders to the Mix?

Given today’s seismic changes in healthcare, hospitals and health systems are looking more strategically at the composition of their boards and the qualities each member brings to the boardroom table. A good board can be a clear competitive advantage.

Most organizations see board diversity as a cornerstone of board health and success. But achieving diversity—of race and ethnicity, of gender, of age, and of skills—often requires boards…



CEO Transitions: A Time for Boards to Be Heroic, Too

In The Hero’s Farewell, author Jeffrey Sonnenfeld outlines four distinct typologies among retiring CEOs: the monarch who must be forcibly removed; the general who leaves reluctantly and plots a return; the ambassador who leaves gracefully yet still lends support; and the governor who willingly departs and moves on to other pursuits.

Fortunately, notes Paul Bohne, Witt/Kieffer Senior Vice President, CEO transitions today mostly feature ambassadors and governors. Yet no matter how gracious and…



In Future Talent Wars, It’s Survival of the Fittest

For anyone involved in recruiting and talent management—or anyone concerned about his or her long-term career viability and talent development for that matter—it’s helpful from time to time to step back and consider the global forces that are shaping our labor markets in the U.S and abroad. Do they favor you? Your organization?

In many of the industries and market niches that Witt/Kieffer serves, executives who make a difference with sophisticated skill sets are near-impossible to find. We’ve written about…



Success Story: In Arizona, Revamping a Hospital Board in 5 Months

In 2010, three large healthcare organizations merged to become the University of Arizona Health Network. Among the immense governance challenges created was that the UAHN board of directors became an “amalgamation” of 27 members from the three organizations—dysfunctional from the start, according the Steve Lynn, the board’s current chairman.

One factor playing into this was that the way in which the organizations were brought together was not accepted by all board members, many of whom took their gripes to parties…



Recruiting Higher Education Executives: A Matter of Instinct or Information?

Placement of executives for colleges and universities has become more sophisticated through the years, but fundamental practices and principles still apply. For higher education executive search committees, there is no substitute for due diligence. The best hiring process is a compilation of qualitative and quantitative factors that result in a “narrative” about a candidate, says Dennis Barden, Senior Vice President at Witt/Kieffer. For the candidates themselves, honesty and enthusiasm, as well as “doing…



For Hospital Board Succession Planning, Creativity Counts

Even the best hospital and health system boards are challenged to find new members. While traditional skills such as accounting and finance are still highly valued, boards increasingly need individuals who understand, for example, population health, evidence-based medicine, and even information technology and social media.

“Board members with proven clinical experience in quality measurement and performance improvement are especially prized,” Jim Gauss writes on Boardmember.com. “As the healthcare landscape and its financial incentives are transformed,…