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The Corporate Use of Murder Boards

The Corporate Use of Murder Boards: Identifying Traits of Board Members and Examples of Success

In the corporate world, the use of “murder boards” has become a common practice to evaluate proposals, ideas, or plans. Companies use murder boards to evaluate high-risk projects or initiatives, and to ensure that all possible issues and challenges have been identified before moving forward. In this blog, we will discuss the corporate use of murder boards, the common psychological traits of people selected to be on these boards, and examples of where they have had great success.

Corporate Use of Murder Boards

Murder boards are typically composed of a team of experts who scrutinize proposals to identify potential weaknesses, flaws, or gaps. The use of murder boards is particularly useful in high-stakes decisions, such as mergers and acquisitions, new product launches, or major capital investments.

For example, when Apple was considering entering the smartphone market, the company used a murder board to evaluate the feasibility of the iPhone. The board included experts in software development, design, and marketing, who identified potential issues and helped Apple to refine its product before it was launched.

Similarly, when Procter & Gamble (P&G) was considering the acquisition of Gillette in 2005, the company used a murder board to evaluate the deal. The board included senior executives from both companies, who identified potential integration challenges and developed strategies to overcome them. The acquisition was ultimately successful and led to significant growth for P&G.

Traits of Board Members

To be effective in a murder board, members must possess certain psychological traits. According to a 2020 article by Harvard Business Review, members of murder boards tend to have the following traits:

  1. Analytical skills: Members must be able to evaluate proposals critically and identify potential issues.
  2. Attention to detail: Members must be able to identify potential problems that others may overlook.
  3. Strategic thinking: Members must be able to think strategically and identify opportunities to improve the proposal.
  4. Collaboration: Members must be able to work well in a team and collaborate effectively.
  5. Emotional intelligence: Members must be able to manage their emotions and maintain a constructive attitude, even when critiquing proposals.

Examples of Success

The use of murder boards has been successful in a variety of industries. For example:

  1. Aerospace: Boeing used a murder board to evaluate the design of the 787 Dreamliner, resulting in significant improvements to the plane’s safety and efficiency.
  2. Pharmaceuticals: Johnson & Johnson used a murder board to evaluate the feasibility of developing a vaccine for HIV/AIDS, leading to the successful launch of a new vaccine.
  3. Financial services: JPMorgan Chase used a murder board to evaluate its risk management policies after the 2008 financial crisis, resulting in significant improvements to its operations.

Conclusion

Murder boards are a valuable tool for companies to evaluate proposals, ideas, or plans, particularly in high-stakes decisions. Members of murder boards must possess certain psychological traits, such as analytical skills, attention to detail, strategic thinking, collaboration, and emotional intelligence. Examples of success in various industries demonstrate the value of murder boards in improving decision-making processes.

References:

Harvard Business Review. (2020). When the stakes are high, use a murder board. https://hbr.org/2020/07/when-the-stakes-are-high-use-a-murder-board

Lima, A. (2019). How Apple uses murder boards to kill off bad ideas. Inc. https://www.inc.com/angelina-lima/how-apple-uses-murder-boards-to-kill-off-bad-ideas.html

Patel, S. (2019). What is a murder board and why do you need one? Entrepreneur. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/333953

Smith, R. (2020). The benefits of using a murder board. Business.com. https://www.business.com/articles/murder-board-benefits/

Zimmerman, E. (2020). The power of the murder board. Strategy+Business. https://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-power-of-the-murder-board

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