Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Renewal Board: How to Synchronize the Board Evolution with the Digital Transformation

A renewal board with digital savvy can set an example of leadership which permeates through the entire organization and synchronize the board evolution with the digital transformation.

The contemporary corporate board as the top leadership team plays a significant role in advising and monitoring business management. The BoDs should also walk the talk to digitize the boardroom with strategic imperative because often the digital tone is set at the top and echo spirally to all levels of the organization. So, how to synchronize the board evolution with the digital transformation and re-energize BoDs to get digital ready?



Synchronize the board composition with the strategic perspective of digital transformation: In order to lead today’s hyperconnected digital organization with the hyper-diverse workforce, the board composition should be synchronized with the digital perspective of the business. The Board is responsible for ensuring an appropriate mix of cognitive intelligence, professional capabilities, skills, knowledge, and experience are present or available for it to fulfill its function. The best-fit BoDs for the board depends on the Board’s current makeup, culture, and which “gap” needs to be filled. Anyone who is selected to sit on a corporate board should be fully qualified to mind the gap or multiple gaps. And the Board composition needs to embrace cognitive difference, functional difference, and other experience or capability difference. Some of these credentials are proven experience in executive leadership, entrepreneurship, strategy development, technological vision, innovation, digital advising, risk and crisis management, global empathy, international experiences, and some degree of financial literacy.


Refresh the board viewpoint via setting tones to catalyze changes and making policies to ensure smooth digital transformation: Due to the “VUCA” characteristics of business dynamic, overloading information, and globalization as the new normal of business expansion, the Board provides an “outside-in” view of businesses and multi-dimensional lenses to oversee and advise business strategy and execution to steer the business to the right direction. It is crucial to brainstorm on how to build a highly effective board with a heterogeneous viewpoint, and right mixing of Individualism and collectivism nature, to set the tone of directorship with innovation and influence. The traditional boards advise and take the compliance driven lens to ensure nothing is broken, but the digital boards should inspire and present creative tension to stimulate innovation, with courage to break outdated rules and build the right set of digital principles and policies to catalyze changes. Traditional boards have the peer relationship, but digital boards advocate digital professionalism a and provide constructive feedback to the management and each other, set the tone for building the culture of learning and innovation. All of these changes bring the significant opportunities and responsibilities for the new breed of digital BoDs, who might recommend the updated digital playbooks with the more advanced digital philosophy and comprehensive insight to guide through the digital transformation from the boardroom to the front line. The BoDs as the business critic can provide excellent feedback which gives the top management accurate information to improve; great questions to self-aware; and keen insight to gain the in-depth understanding of the digital ecosystem.


Rejuvenate boards with IT-savvy BoDs to embrace digital as the inevitable trend and part of the business venture: Many organizations are still confused digital with general technology adoption. It's a significant shift from going digital to being digital. Many corporate directors and senior executives would like boards to have a more frequent and constructive role in digital strategy. Being digital in one's business implies first going digital internally, culturally, and holistically. A digital-savvy board oversees strategy and weaves IT as an integral part of strategic plans. Digital savvy BoDs understand what's required and how as a high-level basis of going digital mean to the business. Therefore, more and more digital savvy boards invite IT leaders to the table to share the technological vision and close the strategy blind spots which are often created by the lack of future-driven mindset, that means the management probably wouldn't know where is the weakest link in the business. Ultimately it is best for the boardroom to give a 360 viewpoint and execute the strategy and avoid group thinking, rejuvenate board to embrace digital as the inevitable trend and business venture.


Evaluation, strategic oversight and policy setting for the long term should top the list in the digital board’s agenda. One of the biggest challenges in this complex, multi-polar world is the fact that we need different perspectives, the multitude of insights, dynamic knowledge, and alternative ways to solve emergent or old thorny problems. A renewal board with digital savvy can set an example of leadership which permeates through the entire organization and synchronize the board evolution with the digital transformation.

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