What are you looking for in your Board Members?

Mavericks, co-conspirators, zealots. This is not a time commitment; it’s a total commitment of heart and soul. We hear about the 10% or so of people who are underemployed in the U.S. It’s more like 80% for staff in industrial R&D. These are the scientists, engineers and managers that should be leading us toward greater levels of prosperity, health and happiness. But instead they’re stuck inside small circles of their own making. They have no gun to their head, no court orders, no hostages: just a lack of direction and unfounded fears. World Class R&D gives them the direction and institutional support they need to step outside those circles. We free these people and from their freedom comes a wealth of new products, opportunities and prosperity for much of the rest of the world.

Board members must recognize the impossibility of this task; and the absolute moral imperative of making it happen. This is a proposition that will take a decade or more. There will be many obstacles, lulls, crises, setbacks and disappointments. But the cause is noble and the personal rewards will be great. People build edifices to leave something permanent in the world: we’re talking about the power and permanence of ideas and ideals that change the world.

This is a proposition that can often leave you feeling very uncomfortable, even alone. You’ve spent a lifetime building your reputation and status. Is this what you want to carry to the grave? Or are you willing to risk it all for an even greater and more rewarding challenge? Friends and colleagues will bury you in a welter of details they’ve learned about the current system: reasons why you should give up this quixotic quest and be content with consolidating past gains. You’ll begin to have doubts. Why are certain ‘friends’ no longer returning your calls? Sensitivities get heightened: innocent slights take on a personal significance. You begin to sense that you’re ‘out there’ and quite naked.

That’s why we need a committed board. We will have each other. Across the five or six of us we’ll present a continuous, consistent face to the hostile world. Some of us will occasionally flag, but others will pick up the slack. We bounce back. We cover for the domestic urgencies of fellow members. This is more than a board: it’s a band of co-conspirators. With the right level of commitment and mutual support, we only need ourselves, the Fab Five, to remake the industrial R&D landscape, and with it the lives and welfare of many millions of individuals.