The Board Member’s Guide to Risk

David R. Koenig

Independently published , May 2020

“I wrote The Board Member’s Guide to Risk to be a highly accessible guidebook. I want directors to talk more about, read more about, and have more confidence in, taking risk. Everything we do in life requires taking risk or we’re left with only a deterioration from the status quo. If we want to continue to serve those who rely on us in better ways, we want our organizations to be the best at taking risk that they can be. This book will get you started down that path or further your journey if you’ve already begun.” -David R. KoenigIn fact, all human organizations exist to take risk. Anytime we come together to try to serve some purpose or achieve some goal, we have assumed risks. If we didn’t, we’d never advance beyond the status quo. In fact, not taking risks is probably the single surest way to be doomed to failure in the long-term, as innovation, competition, and customer lethargy slowly eat away at any advantage we may enjoy today.Good businesses take risk confidently. When we govern our organizations, we must welcome risk-taking in ways that are responsible and smart. This book is not about risk management. That’s for the people in your organization to do. Rather, this book is about how to make boards and individual board members better at the governance of an organization’s risk-taking. This book is also like a travel guidebook to the ideas that help you to take risk well.Finally, this book is also about recovery. As I finish my writing, the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is beginning to grow exponentially in the United States, where I live, as it has in other countries. We are responding, but many aspects of our economic life — and the total economic life of some organizations — are frozen. How you think about and treat risk at the board level will impact how quickly your organization will recover from this health crisis, which is rapidly becoming a social and economic crisis too.

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About the Author

David R. Koenig’s work over the past four decades has been focused on helping organizations to be more successful in achieving their goals. He’s served on multiple for-profit and nonprofit boards and has advised board members and executives around the world. His executive leadership roles have included the creation and development of corporate risk management programs at three different companies, the management of complex portfolios in excess of tens of billions of dollars in size, the risk oversight of a complete suite of public mutual funds for one of the largest banks in the U.S., and the development of the first firmwide risk management program in the mortgage banking business. Many of David’s initiatives have egun with ideas about things that didn’t yet exist at his employer or client, and working to make them a reality.

Because of his innovative concepts and initiatives, David has been invited to present his ideas at more than 100 events on five continents, and his travels have taken him to nearly 40 countries. In 2010, one of his visionary governance concepts was honored with an inaugural M-prize for management innovation in the category of Reinventing Leadership. In 2008, he was honored as the recipient of the PRMIA Higher Standard Award — the top recognition bestowed on any member of the Professional Risk Managers International Association.

David is a widely published author, lends his time to numerous industry initiatives to advance best practices, is a founder of two global professional associations, and is an active volunteer in his community. He is a proud member of Rotary International and has earned multiple Paul Harris fellowships.

David earned his M.A. in economics from Northwestern University, and B.A. degrees in mathematics and economics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.