Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Strategic Board

A Strategic Board has a view of looking ahead, an insight of looking deeper, and a competency to looking beyond. 

One of the most important responsibilities of the Board is to oversee the business strategy; however, it doesn’t mean Board itself is being strategic enough. 

In some cases, Board members time is stretched thin so they do not allocate enough time to understand key issues and in many cases board members are not motivated; others wonder why many Boards aren't active enough to catch the derailment of strategies. So what are the requirements to become a truly strategic Board? 

A strategic board should be knowledgeable enough to set broad strategic goals: They need to educate themselves by hearing different views about the organization, its environment, and strategic alternatives. The board represents the ownership and they really cannot do a good job if they don't have the knowledge to challenge and set the broad strategic goals. Objectives and tactics are the appropriate points of delegation to management. 

A truly strategic Board takes practice, practice, practice: The Board's role is to pull management out of the trees to see the forest; to see the shape of the landscape to come and how it will capture the best picture; to ensure there is a strong context for establishing the tactical choices when the surprises that will invariably show up. The challenge also includes converting vision (aka innovation) to clear marketing and executable management processes. 

A truly strategic Boards can add real value to management in the strategy arena: Especially if management confuses strategy with the longer-term financial plans. In today's world with such frequency of change and competition showing up in the most bizarre ways, can a company actually do a "Strategic Plan" and in what ways does the Annual planning retreat need to change? By Context, it is referring to a deep understanding of the core purpose of the organization, its values, who it is serving and how is it attempting to improve the lives of those it serves. 

The Board members must be competent with unique insight with the right knowledge/ experience: The BoDs need to gain a deeper understanding of the enterprise in order to be a credible actor in the strategic dialogue. This requires a major time commitment. If all three elements are in place, it works. Casual strategy leads to superficial results. As a good strategy has always to diagnose the key business problems/issues, set the guidelines, make a set of choices, and include a series of actions.

A strategic Board not only oversees strategy but also influences the process as well: The process of strategic planning is the best indicator of how well a board really understands and invests time in learning about their companies and also identifies the levels of collaboration, synergy, trust, and confidence that exist (or not) between the board and executive of the organization. Great strategies are developed by a process of testing and debating that requires all the players (board and executive) to be, knowledgeable, as well as having trust and confidence in each other's particular skills and knowledge.

A strategic Board is a prerequisite to building an effective and high-performing Board. Thereof, in order to become more strategic, Boards need to spend their efforts on developing an understanding strategy so they can set the vision and broad goals. The company’s senior executive team needs to assist the board with leadership issues and then organize the operational aspects of achieving the vision and goals.

Read more about the Digital Theme of Modern 'Boardship'
A Decisive Board


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