Thursday, June 19, 2014

Three Types of Digital “BoD Material”

Digital "BoD Material" is the Harbinger of Digital Transformation.

More and more organizations intend to reinvent their Board with fresh eyes or new blood. An industry survey shows that one in three boards is looking for the new BoD. New seats mean the new opportunity for new minds, new skills, new perspectives, and insights. Mainly because it allows this company to free themselves up from any past obstacles to innovation, it is not necessarily mean technological innovation, but an overall mindful thirst for positive and iterative change. But first of all, you need to understand the maturity of Board: Which role does the board play in the corporation’s success? How is the board used in the corporation - governance, leadership (directorship) or both? If the board has a role in leadership what is the board's plan for itself. How does the board plan to contribute to value creation? When shall you have to navigate through unchartered waters? And which criteria shall you use to select the new BoD?

 The criteria to select BoD: Change, complexity, and risk are constants. A board needs BoD:  (1) who can formulate and direct strategies; (2) who have global breadth for competitive judgments and opportunities; (3) who have a technological vision and perspectives so they can ask the right questions and allocate funds to the management. BoDs understand that governance is not management, there are processes in which board committees interact, think fiduciary responsibility and liabilities; the further considerations include (a) share the same values is very key; (b) know to pick their battles versus fighting them all and derailing progress; (c) recognize social media as communication mega-trend results in accountability - hiding in a silo is not an option, need to deal with reality. That is why the right platform to facilitate the type of interaction and innovative sessions are important to be able to pull those things out of your teams/boards and help piece them all together. 

The “pleasant skeptics”: The boards need to have skills requisite to the organizations' needs: value chain, IT, finance, HR, etc. based on the organization's environment and industry. Certain things are non-negotiable in getting good board members. You have to have people in whom you can trust.  You also have to be able to find "pleasant skeptics" - those who can disagree without being jerks and who understand that the role of the board is "head in but hands out" and that managing needs to be appropriately done by management.

The innovative‘outliers”: If you want true innovation, find someone who doesn't know how the game is played in order to reinvent, disrupt or invent a completely new game. The days of the inner circle with friends, favors, and those that seem right on paper are gone. The failure of that type of board makeup has proved itself detrimental time and time again. It's time to not just think outside of the box on what type of persons should make up your board, but to seek people who truly think-outside-of-the-box, or more precisely, who can shape a new or bigger box and bring outside in viewpoint. They don't typically sit on boards. They don't typically fall within these types of circles, per se. The tables are turning, and instead of the seat itself is in demand, it's now leaning more towards the right person being in demand, with companies and available seats competing for them.

The “constructive insighteer”: Some members certainly should have extensive domain knowledge. Others could be the generalist - but be able to link their knowledge or experience with ease to the industry, company and projects or issues at hand - simply because their inherent nature and ability to adapt allows them to do just that - adapt and provide valuable insights that truly no one else can or could see. And most importantly those that can see waste, find efficiency, monetize lines, come up with new ideas/products/services/directions/markets, and have the ability and vision to formulate some semblance of a strategic plan. The real plan and actions are what management and employees are for. But, they all have to collaborate and work together. Experience as a BoD is helpful from the perspective of meeting functionality and expectations. But not knowing how the system of board politics and agendas work allows for all that to be stirred up and kicked out the next practices of Board.   

How do you find these digital BoD ‘material’?  It all comes down to looking in the right place at the right time to find the right person. Turning over rocks and search for alternative pipeline helps. And when you find such talent that fit the mold, they likely know much more just like them. It becomes like a fountain. That fountain of digital leadership should change, evolve and iterate just as quickly as the needs of the company and its culture do, in order to enforce governance discipline and practices.


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