The mythology of corporate boards goes something like this: put a group of high-achieving, experienced, strategy-minded, and diverse individuals in a room together. Add commitment and a lot of hard work. What you get is a top-notch board with a healthy culture that provides effective oversight. The reality, however, is somewhat messier. In practice, no boardroom culture is perfect. Every board is plagued by derailed discussions, dismissed opinions, side conversations, directors who dominate, and those who seem to be biting their tongue.
Boards are quite rightly spending a great deal of time thinking about composition issues such as director expertise and diversity as paths to more effective governance. But, according to a recent PwC report, “Unpacking board culture: How behavioral psychology might explain what’s holding boards back,” board members may be overlooking the importance of group dynamics—the human element and the biases that everyone naturally brings to the table.