Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Board Directors as the Digital Movers & Shakers

Change Management is the leaders' game and the top leadership involvement is a must.

Leadership or directorship is about setting directions and inspiring changes. It is nevertheless true that the change itself has become unpredictable and evolutionary in today's work environment. It takes a lot of energy to break old habits, outdated thought processes, get out of the comfort zone, make change part of your routine. How should the board of directors act as the digital movers and shakers to catalyze change and leading digital transformation.


Change Management is the leaders' game and the top leadership involvement is a must: Change leadership at the board level is important because change management is an interdependent ecosystem that includes many business factors such as the company’s vision & strategic goals, policy-setting, internal control requirements, customer experience, or employee engagement, etc. The board’s sponsorship and involvement of changes are important to clarify the very reason to change as well as oversee the change methodology and practices. All should be synchronized without compromising. It is, in fact, critical to start change at the boardroom, because radical change needs to deprogram old mindsets at the top leadership level, let go of “the voices from the past,” reprogram people's minds with new thinking, norms, and attitudes; and establish a new blueprint for how you want to create the digital future reality through change continuum.

Change starts with a "sense of urgency" which can only come from top management such as boardroom: The good moment to change is when the top senses the urgency and the bottom feel the pain, and change inertia is minimized by the common understanding of the necessity and imperatives of changes. The senior leadership team such as the board can work closely with the top management to provide the direction of change as vision, mission, strategy, as well as leadership skills such as delegation, decision-making, and monitoring. The board needs to be engaged at the most senior levels to help influence, have a sense of the business direction, and shape the business of the future. The role affects most through congruent behavior, continuous endorsement of the change and regular communication to keep the change momentum. The board directors as digital movers and shakers know what they want, give clear directions, bring cohesive process, and stand by their word and motivate.


Ask tough questions about changes: The highly effective boards ask tough questions about changes and criticize digital strategy. Creating a compelling reason for the change is something that companies often miss and a change program is then initiated without an anchor. Change without good reason and adding value is futile and useless. The very goal of the change is to make the improvement. It’s about creating a better value proposition and successful operating system/culture that delights customers and makes a step change difference in the way and quality that we do business and reward stakeholders. The board can make constructive criticism by questioning the management about the changing scenario: What's the current situation and the net value of the business now as well as in the future if it's not changed? What's the future situation or the vision about the change, and the net value of this in the future if there is a change? What's the specific plan to change from the current situation to the future situation? Etc. Change is always easier if you know the net value of the change compared to the net value of not changing; there has to be enough net value increase to make it worth the effort of handling the actual physical activities as well handling the mental inertia.

One of the change pitfalls is that even the people who are advocating change are sometimes resistant to change, and sometimes leaders do not set a good example to become change players. The commitment from the top is very important for any change to be successful. Thus, digital board directors need to become the mastermind behind digitalization and movers and shakers to lead change confidently.

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