The Chilcot review: governance issues arising

When it goes wrong, it can go badly wrong.

The reputations of individuals, organisations and institutions can be significantly harmed and legacies irreparably damaged.

The findings of the Chilcot review raise a number of issues governance. Commentators have made observations around leadership and challenged the decisions made throughout the process. One thing that is evident is that good decision making is dependant upon timely, accurate and reliable information. Without this the decisions made are inevitably flawed.

The importance of transparency around decision making is again emphasised. It is crucial that information is readily available and shared to allow constructive and objective challenge.

It is also clear that risks were taken with potentially huge consequences.  In such cases, the risks and mitigation actions must be well thought through and contingency scenarios thoroughly tested to ensure the consequences can be appropriately controlled.

Organisations who recognise the benefit in demonstrating good governance should take heed of the lessons arising whether they are public bodies, listed companies, large corporate bodies, charities or not for profit entities.  In our view, matters coming out of the review which should be fully considered include :

1. How are decisions made within your organisation?
2. As leaders, whether you are, Directors, Chief Executives, Senior Accounting Officers, Trustees, are you confident the information you receive and base your decisions on is accurate and reliable? What assurance processes are in place to give you confidence?
3. Do you know what risk you face? Does your risk management process properly work through the risks and actions you need to take?
4. Is your decision making process sufficiently transparent to allow objective challenge?

The findings of the Chilcot review are far reaching and although business issues are clearly trivial in comparison, there are governance lessons which emerge that are relevant and important for all.