Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Are directors just pawns in the game of business?

I like marcashton's analogy between a sales team and chess moves. I found the concept interesting, and I yhought I'd try something a little different - to metaphorically disect a company's building blocks in chess'ese:

To me, the pawns represent management [not employees, as most would probably say]. The pawns stand in the front line, lead the way forward and have to make moves and sacrifices in the team's best interests.

Rook [aka Castle]
These more closely resemble employees. Their movement is far more limited as they play a role but not the lead role. They are there to get the job done [often in chess these get the job done in going for check-mate].

Their flexible movement is reminiscent of a company's products and services. They need to be constantly moving and changing to stay ahead of the competition. And with the unusual 'L' movement, its easy to be caught off guard, or to catch your competition off guard.

Difficult one, but by a process of elimination, can be seen to be the suppliers. They are there to add to the business [by providing products and services]. The more predictable and consistent their movement, the easier they are to handle.

This is probably the brand [not a living member of the cast, but still an integral player]. This gives life to the company and plays an integral part in the strategy of many companies. When the queen is lost, strategy often changes direction significantly.

It is the most important piece to be protected, and probably best approximates the customer. Without customers, no business will survive.

The board
Not 'the Board'. This is the company itself and forms the playing field where all interactions take place. In the end, it is just an inanimate structure, but you can't play the game without it.

The player
I would take this to represent the directors - needing a good 'big picture' view of the board and everything going on. The player has the ability to direct the game in its entirety and to make decisions affecting all its participants.

The chess set's owners
Last and certainly not least - representing the shareholders. It doesn't matter how the player plays the game, in the end he better look after the chess set and return it to its rightful owners. In many cases, the players and the owners are one and the same... but isn't that the way it is in business too?

One specific note to the two above - the directors are the stewards of the business, and unlike returning a chess set to its owners slightly worse for wear, a business should eventually be 'returned' to its owners in better condition than when control was originally given to the directors - the hallmark of an excellent director/board.

Okay, so this isn't an exact science, but I hope you see what I'm getting at. Any differing viewpoints would be interesting to hear.

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