The America’s Cup and the Art of Corporate Governance

Many consider the America’s Cup to be the pinnacle of sailing competition. Dating back to 1851, it is the oldest trophy in international sport and is affectionately known as the Auld Mug. It predates the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. The United States held the trophy for 132 years until Australia II won the Cup in 1983. Since then, there have been significant changes in the design of the yachts being raced. Currently, the latest round of America’s Cup racing is being undertaken across the Tasman in Auckland, New Zealand. The yachts are foiling monohulls capable of speeds in excess of 50 knots! A far cry from the single digit speeds of relatively recent times.

When you look at the history of the America’s Cup it is easy to identify two key factors that underpin the massive improvements achieved in performance over the last three decades: Technology and data. Historically it was all about the tools (boats) and the skill of the practitioners (sailors). Today, both are still vital, but through #technology and #data there has been a massive increase in their performance. Technology enables the design of faster boats and provides tools to complement and enhance the skills of the sailors. Data provides feedback to support both strategic and operational decision-making – often in real time.

Arguably, no industry or sector has been left untouched by the advance of technology and the availability of data. This is certainly true of Corporate Governance. Technology has changed the way we do Corporate Governance. Manual process have been replaced by digital capability. This alone has yielded significant efficiency dividends, which are realised in the increase in speed and accuracy, and reduction in cost, of corporate governance processes. Add to this the power of data to provide deep real time insights and you have a compelling case for harnessing the power of technology and data. Resources previously applied to the administration of manual processes can be re-deployed to activities that generate value for the organisation.

So, what can the America’s Cup teach us about the art of Corporate Governance?

  1. If you are not leveraging the power of technology and data, you are not even in the race.
  2. Manual processes are not an efficient use of resources, not cost-effective, and can no longer deliver an acceptable level of performance.
  3. Without access to real time data, decision-makers capacity to make appropriate decisions to deliver optimum performance is severely compromised.

So, how are things at your organisation? Here are three indicators that you may not be race-ready:

  1. Paper forms are a common way of collecting data or supporting/documenting business processes/decisions
  2. Spreadsheets are frequently used to store information
  3. Data/reports are not available to decision-makers in real time
This article was written by Zane Edwards, Global Director of GRC at LighthouseGRC. Zane is a chartered accountant and has 20 years experience in Government and Private sector GRC management. Not only is he passionate about the digital transformation of governance, but he is also a skilled and influential communicator with extensive national and international experience in a variety of channels, including conferences, radio, television, and video.