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Why Boards Need to Keep an Eye on Value Creation

It's easy for directors to lose sight of top corporate objectives in a downturn. Here's a reminder of where priorities really lie

U.S. business is in a perilous time. Some companies, especially in the financial services, auto, and retail, are fighting merely to survive and are focused primarily on preservation of capital. However, many companies in other industries are not as hard pressed. The conservative approach they have taken to managing their balance sheet puts them on the verge of significant strategic opportunities. At such companies, the role of the board is to create the right environment for a CEO to get the job done, but that entails more than cutting costs to regain wealth-producing potential. CEOs need to position their companies for recovery and building value. In helping CEOs plan, boards need to be sensitive to the recession but not fearful. In that respect, this economic meltdown is reinforcing four governance lessons.

• Companies need a compelling value-creation strategy.