The way I look at it, the board was either in on the Theranos scandal, or they weren’t aware of what was going on. Either way, the board was not performing their moral and legal obligation to challenge, understand, and address what was happening on the ground floor of their organization.
Bernie Madoff didn’t have a board, and we saw what happened there. Theranos had a board of business celebrities, now we’re seeing the consequences of that. The difference between these two scandals, i.e. that one had a board and one did not, is far less important than their similarity, that is, that neither had an effective governance structure in place.
Simply having a board is not enough to guarantee success. Conversely, not having a board doesn’t guarantee failure. Whether they have a board or not, organizations must have strong enough governance in place to mitigate disaster. If you build a board, enterprise risk management should be one of its fundamental capabilities.