Boards of Directors

Boards of directors face increasing pressure to diversify their ranks, stay on top of regulatory and technological advances, hold executives accountable, and improve their functioning.

Yet, they’re susceptible to all the foibles of human dynamics—many of which are exacerbated by boards’ high-status members operating under time constraints and other pressures. Our ongoing research combines robust qualitative and quantitative methods with scientific insights to explore board effectiveness and generate pragmatic ways for Chairs and directors to optimize their work

Boards of Directors
PUBLICATION TITLE / Executives and Boards, Avoid These Missteps in a Crisis

In times of crisis, leaders and boards can fall victim to “threat rigidity”- stopping innovating and reverting to patterns that have previously worked. In this article, Dr. Gardner and Dr. Randal Peterson discuss three main traps and ways to avoid them.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Year: April 2020


Executives and Boards, Avoid These Missteps in a Crisis
PUBLICATION TITLE / Back Channels in the Boardroom

Side conversations (outside of main board meetings) are common communication channels and can be enormously valuable—perhaps essential. But many board chairs and members fail to appreciate the subtler drawbacks of offline conversations and therefore also fail to proactively mitigate the downside.  This article provides practical guidance on how to do it better.

Publication: Harvard Business Review

Year: September-October 2019


Back Channels in the Boardroom
PUBLICATION TITLE / Ongoing research: Formal Board Reviews to Improve Effectiveness

Only a small fraction of corporate board chairs or members understand how to capture the potential value of a formal board review, conducted by an objective expert.  Our ongoing qualitative and survey-based research with boards in the US and UK investigates how to optimize this kind of review, including the best ways to select reviewers, prepare the directors for the experience, and follow-through on feedback and recommendations.  If you would like to get involved in the ongoing research, please email

Gardner & Co
PUBLICATION TITLE / Ongoing research: Neuroscience Insights to Help Directors (Better) Prepare for Board Meetings.

Given all the constraints on corporate independent directors, how can they best prepare for board meetings to facilitate robust discussion and make better decisions? Despite good intentions, why do smart executives provide the wrong kind of board pack, in the wrong format, etc.?  More time spent preparing for a meeting does not necessarily lead to better decision-making. But what does? Drawing on the latest neuroscience findings on how human brains compute inputs, our ongoing research aims to recommend specific steps to communicate and use the right kind and amount of data and information that enables rich, productive boardroom conversations. If you would like to get involved in the ongoing research, please email

Gardner & Co