Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers up to and including season 2 of Game of Thrones.
Risk can take on many meanings; in finance it means the chance that the return on an investment is different from the expected, in general terms it is the uncertainty associated with a future event, in strategic planning it is a lens to view decisions through. It was this final version of risk that I was thinking about when working on our Enterprise Risk Management framework when a familiar tune popped into my head… Dum dum, da da, dum dum, da da, dum dum, da da, dum dum… How would the rulers of Westeros have fared if they took this approach to their rule?
This series of blogs will examine characters from Game of Thrones and the corporate lessons we can learn from their reign.
Robert of the House Baratheon, the First of His Name,
King of the Andals and the First Men,
Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.
Robert Baratheon was ruler of the Seven Kingdoms after overthrowing King Aerys II Targaryen in a rebellion. Robert usurped the throne and married Cersei Lannister in an attempt to fulfil the unenviable task of bringing peace to the Seven Kingdoms. Robert eventually died on a hunting accident where he was killed by a boar in suspicious circumstances. Notably, he was fed wine by Cersei’s nephew, Lancel. On his deathbed, Robert proclaimed Eddard Stark Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm to watch over the Kingdoms until his “son” Joffrey comes of age. After Robert’s death, Cersei destroys the proclamation of Eddard as Regent and Protector of the Realm and has him arrested, eventually leading to his beheading.
“I’m not trying to honour you. I’m trying to get you to run my kingdom while I eat, drink and whore my way to an early grave”
– Robert Baratheon to Eddard Stark
Robert paid little attention to his Kingdom and even less to succession planning, until it was too late. Succession planning for directors and executives is key to a well functioning organisation or kingdom for that matter. The ASX Corporate Governance Council (ASXCGC) recommends ensuring there are plans in place to manage the succession of the directors, CEOs and other senior executives. Specifically, the ASXCGC recommends that companies should have a board skills matrix setting out the mix of skills and diversity that the board currently has or is looking to achieve in its membership. A board skills matrix scores each skill from 0-3 and for Robert and his Small Council, it may have looked something like this:
Robert Baratheon’s Small Council Skills Matrix
If Robert had publicly proclaimed, that in the event of his death, Lord Eddard Stark would rule the Realm until Joffrey came of age then the ensuing power vacuum could have been avoided. It would also be advisable to have a list of both internal and external candidates for membership to the Small Council. Based on the above skills matrix, perhaps Stannis would have been next in line after Ned. It also becomes clear that Grand Maester Pycelle and Renly Baratheon add little to the Small Council and Varys and Petyr Baelish have very similar skill sets. Succession planning is an important tool in any director’s arsenal and external appointments may be necessary to effect a change in strategy or culture.
Be well-prepared for sudden departure, be it from illness, death or bovine-related hunting accidents. If Game of Thrones has taught me anything, it is this: valar morghulis.
Next week we’ll be learning about the Young Wolf, Robb Stark and risk registers.
Written By: Patrick Deruvo
- Feature Image provided by HBO