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On Board
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An engaging guide on how to navigate the pitfalls and challenges of serving on a board, complemented by anecdotes and narratives from John Tusa's vast and eclectic career as a board member of various prestigious institutions.

About the Author

John Tusa's distinguished and varied career as a broadcaster and journalist has included a long association with BBC's flagship 'Newsnight' as well as broadcasting with Radio 4's 'The World Tonight'. He is well-known to the British public as presenter in the 90s of BBC TV's 'One O'Clock News'. As Managing Director of the BBC External Services, he set up BBC World Service Television. He is also a writer whose books include 'Art Matters: Reflections on Culture' and 'On Creativity'.

Reviews

'On Board' is a serious story lightly told, with numerous hints and tips along the way on how boards behave and how they should. Every board member should read it... and learn. -- Joan Bakewell, broadcaster, writer and President of Birkbeck, University of London
John Tusa is one of the bravest and most thoughtful public servants of a generation, and one of the people I admire most in British public life. -- Rory Stewart
John Tusa deals with the great and seldom asked questions: why do chairs and chief executives not get on? Why do boards make the wrong appointments? What does a great board look like? His answers - based on huge experience - are vital reading for chairs and trustees everywhere. This is a book on an important subject full of insight and interest: essential reading! -- Lord Tony Hall of Birkenhead CBE, Chairman of the National Gallery and former Director-General of the BBC
Part primer, part memoir, part history, laced with psychology and social anthropology, On Board is an arresting and enlightening survival guide for anyone who aspires to sit on a not-for-profit board. It makes an eloquent case for the public value of the independent and good governance of our intellectual and cultural institutions - and the inherent obstacles to achieving it. John Tusa's case studies, from the many distinguished boards on which he has served and chaired, provide a serious and authoritative analysis of the tenets of institutional governance. This is also a riveting and, at times, excruciatingly candid account of personal learning painfully acquired in what he describes as one of "the most demanding complex and taxing activities in the world of public life". On Board charts the perilous navigation between the Scylla and Charybdis of personal rivalries and collective prevarication on which so many boards can come to grief. Anyone who has served as a Trustee will recognise his description of boards' capacities for resilience and dysfunctionality, and, at their centre, the delicate chemistry of the CEO/Chair relationship. Anyone asked to join such a board will be well advised to learn from Tusa how codes, management theory and mission statements cannot substitute for decency, humanity and rigour, so much more difficult to achieve than to proscribe. In the end, good governance depends on good behaviour. -- Tim Gardam, Chief Executive, Nuffield Foundation, former Principal of St Anne's College Oxford and former Chair, Ofcom Content Board
For anyone considering joining a board, especially one in the arts, this is an excellent guide for what awaits them. It gives a clear sense of how the complex issues and relationships are handled from someone who was there, and lessons in good governance have rarely been so fluently expressed. And for those interested in many leading characters of the London arts scene over the past 20 years, this is a hugely entertaining read. -- Sir Andrew Likierman, Professor and former Dean, London Business School
With outstanding insight, John weaves his way elegantly through misunderstandings, personal ambition, indecision, and incompetence to illustrate with clarity, the consequences of flawed Chairmanship, board composition, mistaken beliefs, and finally the privilege and honour of being part of a Board that gets it right. -- Lady Alison Myners, Chair of Royal Academy Trust
One of the truly great and good, John Tusa has led many of Britain's cultural institutions and led them brilliantly. This book explains, modestly but straight-forwardly, how he has dealt with boards of trustees as helmsman, nanny, confessor, policeman, plotter, and Scout leader. Necessary reading for anyone involved in schools, arts organisations or other non-profits. -- Richard Sennett, Chairman of Trustees, Theatrum Mundi

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