How to Be an Idea Fountain: Resources to Fuel Board Work



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by Tamara Paton in Professional development

When I started out in management consulting, a colleague gave me some advice. “When assessing a client’s problem, you can develop an answer by being crackerjack smart. Or you can read so much that pattern recognition leads you to insightful conclusions.”

The colleague then dismissed my crackerjack potential. In short, I needed to read. I needed to read so much that my ability to recount a case example and apply an analogy masked my merely average intellect. (He had the nerve to remind me that “feedback is a gift.”)

Eventually realizing that my colleague had a point, I took the advice. So began a daily habit of reading for its own sake without a specific goal in mind. Most of that has taken place online, where we can source, save and recall content efficiently.

Over the years, my interests have evolved. In addition to keeping up with my favourite industries, my current focus rests on corporate governance and collaborative decision making. If you are looking for fresh insight into board-related topics, the following resources may serve you well.

Snack-sized news sources

Harvard Law School shares a well-curated collection of corporate governance news stories.  The content is a tad academic, but it always impresses in a board interview.

Independent governance advisors, such as Estelle Metayer and James McRitchie, also comb the web to compile pithy insights into tidy presentations. Dina Medland shares her thoughtful writing via And the Inside America’s Boardrooms video podcast shines a light on the practical details of a director’s work.

Consulting firms’ thought leadership

Professional services firms are heavily invested in research on corporate governance topics. The product of this effort is intended to be a marketing platform for corporate clients, but I’m happy to benefit at an individual level. I’m particularly fond of the PwC Governance Insights Center and the Deloitte Centre for Corporate Governance (in Canada and the US). In particular, Deloitte has excellent free webinars that help directors complete their continuing education requirements.

I also look to research from more specialized consultants. Reports from Hugessen Consulting  keep me up to date on executive compensation and the Korn Ferry Institute’s Briefings For The Boardroom are particularly useful.

Creative decision making experts

There are times when detailed reports from big thinkers are too much for my tired brain. In those moments, I’ll seek a burst of creative energy from big thinkers at Ideo. The Idea Sandbox is another great source with posts like 11 Ways to Restate Problems to Get Better Solutions. And I often turn to people whom I’d like to be when I grow up, such as innovation expert Nilofer Merchant or productivity guru Steve Pavlina.


On commuter trains and in coffee shops, we passively surf our phones. Rather than accepting whatever randomly greets you on Facebook or Twitter, how might you use these moments to your advantage? By acting with intention, we can focus on resources that inform our board work in previously wasted pockets of time.

Question: What online resources fuel your work? Do you have a favourite blog or site that you visit every day?

Please share your response via Twitter, LinkedIn or e-mail.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post useful, please click the “like” button on LinkedIn and/or share it with others in your network. Doing so helps my work reach others and would mean so much to me.




How to Be an Idea Fountain: Resources to Fuel Board Work

by Tamara time to read: 2 min