Five Elements of Corporate Governance

This blog first appeared on Active Garage on August 25th 2009

Governance is everywhere. As we all know, our universe is governed by 5 elements of nature, which are land, water, air, fire and sky. Without these elements, really, there is no life. The elements of nature bring in different assets to our existence. Our ancestors have acknowledged these and we all know their importance. Now, what has this got to do with governance?

Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities and processes that you establish in an enterprise to guide, direct, and control how the organization uses technologies to accomplish business goals.Before we answer the aforementioned question, let us see what is one of the major driving forces of this world: the economy!

Opening up of economy ensures that a country’s limitations are overcome through partnership and collaboration. This comes with not only an increase in opportunities and challenges but also an increase in the dependencies on each other. These collaborations, partnerships and the numerous opportunities are tempting desires in a philosophical sense and human minds go to great extent to reap those in all possible ways and means. Any disturbance in these balances stand to impact the lives of thousands of people.

One thing that can guide us from all these imbalances is governance. Governance could be lethal or soothing based on how it is used leading to the thought that “Governance itself needs to be governed!” One way to think about this is using the “elements of nature” framework outlined above.

Let us look at each of the elements of nature in the context of governance:

Land: Being Grounded –

The mass of the universe is land, which we call Mother Earth that holds all living beings. Without land, there is nowhere for us to live. Organizations can very much manifest the quality of the land in the following ways:

  • Corporates need to be grounded and look at things as others see them.
  • Only when corporates are grounded, they fuel other elements of corporate governance.
  • Fundamentals of Corporate Governance is about dealing with the ground realities from all the stakeholders perspectives including the employees.

Water: Being Flexible –

We can tell from the past human missions that all manned and unmanned missions to other planets are in search of the most precious resource – Water. Water is essential for us to survive. The attributes of water is such that it takes the shape where it’s contained – a lesson in flexibility! Once it occupies the space, one needs to dive-in to understand what is inside. This is the element which brings in the sense of taste.

Corporate governance should take these basic attributes of water and inculcate these in their organizations thus:

  • Being Adaptive and Flexible.
  • Understanding matters deeply than looking at its surface.
  • Getting the taste of what is being guided and governed.

Air: Invisible Presence –

Governance is all about not knowing that you are being governed. To me, that’s the highest level of governance; it should be as simple as electricity flowing from the switch, water flowing from the taps. No drama! Just silently going through the motions of doing what it does. Governance needs to be invisible yet exist everywhere like air. It should transmit the sounds of governance to the right levels as to the true attribute of air which transmits sound and it will show its color if something is mixed up.

Fire: Destroying Evil –

This is the ultimate weapon. Fire absorbs the good and destroys evil. The only attribute of this element is that, it can be seen, Evil forces that act will always see the fire behind them waiting to destroy them. Another quality of fire is it leaves no trace of what it destroys. Corporations should have the fire to clear the evil forces that hinders the growth of the organization. Governance should be structured in a way that it is clearly seen as a lethal weapon to all destructive forces.

Sky: Endless Possibilities –

Even in utmost turmoil, one thing that holds us together is hope and endless possibilities. History shows many instances of this quality. If we observe closely, when you try to reach the sky, it expands itself infinitely. Men have traveled farther to the moon only to understand the limitless possibilities that sky brings in. We know we cannot capture it we can only appreciate and acknowledge it. The rule is very simple – The possibilities are endless. Sky is the limit.

Rajesh Kannan is the CEO at Compassites Software Solutions. He has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry focused around technology and delivery. He is one of the co-founders of Compassites. He has been instrumental in starting the company and has been involved in the day to day operations. Prior to joining Compassites, Rajesh was involved in setting up an India entity for a US based Karna Global Technologies. Rajesh’s earlier work experience includes companies such as Questech and Wipro.

Leave a comment