Eleven Great Corporate Governance Lockdown retro reads

WITH time on our hands, here is my retro lockdown book selection from yesteryear. Not only will these volumes add authority, heft and hinterland when casually displayed in the background of your Zoom conference calls but they also deserve to be read and enjoyed but also appreciated for their lessons for business too.

Some of the key business, leadership and corporate governance lessons to possibly learn from my initial retro lockdown reads selection include:

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Severe disruptions caused by black swan events can badly disrupt strategic ambitions.

Improved diversity and inclusion policies at executive level – especially in family firms – overcomes apparently insurmountable obstacles and builds better teams.

Initially successful careers flatter but can deceive.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Sub-optimal equipment provision or poor work environments often lead to operational failures. Also maximises future legal claims arising from staff injury or death. Often accompanied by severe mental health problems.

Saying something tautologous often, doesn’t make it any more true.

Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

Monocultures encourage excessive oppressive conformity. Also stifles fresh thinking and talent retention.

The Secret Dairy of Adrian Mole, aged 13 and 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Confidently expressed authoritative opinions and judgements – whether from teens or Chairmen and CEOs – requires regular challenge.

Despite extensive research, evidence is often subjective and, even if hindsight is retro-fitted, doesn’t justify bad decisions.


Ice Station Zebra by Alastair Maclean

Effective due diligence requires regular site visits no matter how remote the location.

Audit trails protects research integrity and outcomes.

Whenever the science is settled, learn more by looking for where the bodies are buried.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Product innovation and progress – if poorly handled – can undermine existing market positions and have unintended consequences.

How things happen in practice regularly defies the theory.

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, A Gentleman by Laurence Sterne

Too much attention paid to writing or following the company instruction manual rarely delivers timely or positive outcomes.

Endlessly replaying the battles you won yesterday, won’t win the battles of tomorrow.

Dressing for success can be all part of the fun.

Getting from A to B is rarely linear in life, careers or strategic planning.

The Moon’s A Balloon by David Niven

Overnight success takes years of practice and requires many detours.

Familiarity breeds confident ease more often than contempt.

You can never have too much hinterland.

The Brand New Monty Python Papperbok by Graham Chapman

Groupthink is the enemy of seeing and understanding the familiar anew.

Pimping your classics is often better than re-inventing a square wheel.


Killing Floor by Lee Child

Corporate social responsibility works best with swift risk assessments followed by decisive implementation.

Confirmation bias isn’t always bad news.

And, OF COURSE, my book is worth a glance on matters of corporate governance and independent directorships…

The Independent Director: The Non-Executive Director’s Guide to Board Presence by Gerry Brown

Man meets corporate governance code and so begins the relationship of a lifetime.

Handy cut out and keep guide to the various animals typically found in the boardroom.

Chilled foods distribution supply chain management as you have never seen it before.

Reveals how to put your favourite NEDs out to pasture and source then keep better ones.

Fifty Shades of Boardroom Independence lingeringly unmasked.

All you ever wanted to know about bio-pharmaceuticals and private equity with a life science focus but were afraid to ask.

Best chapter opener: “Of all the ports authorities in the world, you just had to walk into my port authority”

Image credit: goodreads.com