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Strategy for Secretariat teams “Get out of the mosh pit and onto the balcony”

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

At Kuberno’s third Juice Bar event last month, our CoSec community got together to talk about how to run a CoSec function with strategic purpose.

The need for purpose

We tend to think about organisational purpose as a whole, rather than the purpose of the Secretariat itself. The idea of having a strategy lingers uncomfortably in the back of our minds, because we are all so busy. How do we find the time for strategy when we feel like we are on a never ending hamster wheel?

But how much of the task-based activities we get involved in are to do with overall purpose?

Due to the administrative nature of Company Secretarial teams, we are often given very random tasks by stakeholders in the business. So having a strategy which ensures you can focus on where you add value is critical.

And this all starts with your why, your purpose.

Allowing ourselves to fail and learn

Our star speaker Miranda Craig from the Financial Reporting Council set the scene with insights on how to lean into stakeholder’s goals whilst thinking about things in a structural way, with high level objectives, medium level goals and immediate actions. As Company Secretaries, we feel pressure to be perfect, but we need to change our mindset and try new ways of doing things. If it fails, re-frame it as a learning experience and build on that to try something else.

Kuberno co-founder Zoe Bucknell suggested that if it is a challenge to get stakeholders on board, identify one stakeholder group that might be prepared to think differently and use them as a sandbox. But above all else, Secretariat functions should consider purpose, which leads to strategy, which leads to the creation of an operating model.

Working out a challenge statement for the Secretariat team

We then split into break out groups to each discuss our “challenge statement”. What is the challenge for your Secretariat team which becomes your purpose which everything should relate back to?

After discussion in our groups, we reconvened and discussed our statements, which all centred around similar themes.

  • How do we ensure we are seen as an active participant in the business and a value-add function?

  • How do we ensure the Secretariat is seen as a business enabler?

  • How do we help the business make better decisions effectively and efficiently?

Saying no – in the right way

Overwhelm was a common theme amongst the community, so we agreed that setting your purpose, having this challenge statement in place and prioritising things in that order is one of the ways to overcome this.

Finally we talked about how we challenge ourselves to say that one little word we all struggle with – no.

We talked about how important it is to say no sometimes, and how this can be done in a constructive, supportive manner.

The challenge statement and overall purpose and strategy provide a powerful framework to be able to frame your ‘No” alongside an explanation as to why the request doesn’t align to the purpose of the Secretariat function

So, in the words of our co-founder, time to get out of the mosh pit and onto the balcony!

Kuberno’s Governance Maturity Matrix

And if you need a starting point to help you do this, Kuberno have just launched our Governance Operations Maturity Matrix. The scorecard takes less than 5 minutes to complete and you will immediately receive a personalised report with a health check on your governance operations and some practical suggestions so you know what to tackle first in your journey of reaching future fit governance.

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