If there was one word on the lips of the 700-plus attendees at last week's annual conference of the National Association of Corporate Directors, it was this: "Plastics." Whoops, wrong blog.
Seriously, and I do mean on a more serious note, that word would be "Risk." Actually, that word usually came with an appendage — typically, risk management ... risk avoidance ... risk identification ... risk mitigation ... risk behavior ... and other iterations.
How about litigation risk? Yes, that too, for sure.
This is a good time to get comfortable with general counsel. Directors can be forgiven for reaching for the holy water and crucifixes at the approach of a lawyer. Whether that be a counselor working for the board or against them, a lawyer on the scene can bode ill. That sucking sound you hear can be money, time, and reputation just oozing away.
I make a few constructive comments about our colleagues in the bar in my introduction to the Directors & Boards Boardroom Briefing "The Legal Issue" just recently published. It will give some comfort that a strong and collaborative relationship with in-house and outside counsel is what you will need to be well armed as we enter a heightened age of risk.