How can boards begin the process of positioning themselves to meet the governance challenges they will face in the year 2020? Given the increasing complexity of the business and risk environment—and the speed of change—even the best boards will need to “step up their game” to meet the governance challenge of 2020.

Directors at the 2013 NACD Directorship 2020 forums identified three major impediments to good governance today: (1) the obsessive focus on quarterly earnings; (2) board and C-suite dynamics; and (3) the risks posed by information asymmetry (i.e., directors often don’t understand the business and rely on senior management as the key source of information to keep them informed about the company). In this paper, we share key insights and lessons learned from the Directorship 2020 discussions regarding the first impediment, the obsessive focus on quarterly earnings—which we address in two parts: (1) quarterly earnings versus long-term value: rethinking performance metrics; and (2) reconsidering total shareholder return.