Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Three Perspectives to Improve Corporate Board Adaptability

Board of Directors with digital acumen can both drive and adapt to changes effortlessly.

Digital means rapid change, the unprecedented level of uncertainty and ambiguity, the expanded spectrum of innovation, and the theme of people centricity. All of these changes bring significant opportunities and responsibilities for the new breed of digital BoDs to lead differently. The digital corporate board leadership today needs to be future-oriented, highly adaptive, steer the organization towards the digital journey with a clear vision, a highly effective board agenda and a set of best and next practices.

Addressing emerging issues and co-designing digital landscape: The modern corporations are living systems. In systems theory, a system is conceived as a process whereby larger entities, patterns, and regularities arise through interactions among smaller or simpler entities that themselves do not exhibit such properties. From a broader systems perspective, synergy is the business term for a desirable emergent property. It’s about understanding of relationships, ecosystems, market dynamics, and the connections between business units, To improve business agility and maturity, the corporate board and top management team need to focus on the emergent organizational system properties and enable the desirable emergent property being built via certain business activities or process tuning to create business synergy.

Systems Thinking helps digital leaders such as board directors discover the interconnectivity and interdependence of the digital business ecosystem, and ensure that the digital business as an organic system growing and evolving with its environment in harmony. To gain the “zoom out” business views, board directors as senior business leaders are like the telescope, they are good at seeing the big picture, determine what the future needs to look like, understand the interconnectivity, synthesize information to capture the full cycle of seasonal changes and then, co-design digital landscape, take a strategic approach to make the vision rolling into reality.

Moving the needle in diversity and shaping an inclusive culture: Contemporary organizations are diversified with a multigenerational and multicultural stakeholders. To keep business dynamic and creative, the composition of the corporate board should reflect the diverse nature of its shareholders. The corporate board composition needs to embrace cognitive difference, functional difference, and other experience/capability difference. The corporate board is responsible for ensuring an appropriate mix of thought processes, capabilities, skills, knowledge, and experience are present or available for it to fulfill its fiduciary functions and improve governance effectiveness.

We are idea-rich and vision clear through inclusiveness. Businesses are stronger through diversity, it allows them to explore options that one individual or a homogeneous group might not have uncovered. In order to lead today’s hyper-connected digital organization with the hyper-diverse workforce, the corporate board composition should be synchronized with the digital perspective of the business. From top down, inclusiveness needs to be well embedded in the business culture in shaping a truly global organization.


Leading change and improving creative agility: Change is the new normal with increasing speed. It is important to bring the change wave to the boardroom as well. The  board  of directors as a top leadership team should contemplate the big "WHY" and know the dynamic of change and adapt to the ever-evolving business circumstances.

Board of Directors with digital acumen can both drive and adapt to changes effortlessly, setting the top leadership tone to rejuvenate the culture of creativity and run a highly innovative digital organization. Change leadership at the board level is important because change management is an interdependent ecosystem that includes many business factors such as the company goals, policies, internal control requirements, customer experience improvements/customer satisfaction, etc.

A change agent board has the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, trustworthiness, prepare and launch change, innovation, and master with digital fluency to make profound leadership influence. Directors of the board with the change mind are more skillful to ask ‘right’ questions for governing changes so that the directors would be able to quickly assess any numbers and facts they are given, against applicable benchmarks and detect relevant hints for further questioning or confirmation.

Due to the complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity, and volatility of the digital era, the directorship in any organization must envision the future boldly, influence changes proactively, have the agility to adapt to the dynamic digital new normal, reinforce digital principles and practices, and lead the organization towards its future confidently.

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