Saturday, December 3, 2016

The "Digitizing Boardroom" Book Tuning: Three “IN”gredients of Digital Boards

Digital BoDs need to be the “mastermind” behind the digital transformation.

Due to the complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity and volatility of digital age, digitizing the boardroom is inevitable. The directorship in any organization must have the ability to guide, inspire and motivate a group of people toward accomplishing shared visions and goal, set the leadership tone to influence business “mindset” and lead changes as well as digital transformation. Here are three digital ingredients to improve boards’ effectiveness and maturity.

Insight: Digital BoDs need to be the “mastermind” behind the digital transformation. The BoD needs to gain deeply understanding about the enterprise in order to be a credible actor in the strategy dialogue. BoDs are insightful leaders who are fluent on multidimensional thought processes. One of the most crucial roles of boards is to practice independent thinking in a collective way and provide valuable feedback and deep insight, not the rubber stamp, to the management team of the organization and help them leap the organizational management effectiveness up to the next level. A board should be engaged in by scrutinizing the strategy, with regard to the strategic thinking, keep asking what’s happening in your industry and what’re your competitors doing, what could make your vision cloudy and how to clarify it etc. The BoDs are also critical thinkers who can make constructive criticism about business strategies, identify blind spots and pinpoint potential pitfalls. Digital BoDs also need to master Systems Thinking which is about understanding the interconnectivity of the parts and the whole, to deal with today’s overly complex and uncertain digital dynamic. So the board oversight is captured from a much broader and encompassing view that is not possible in linear thinking.

Inquisitiveness: The board's role is to pull management out of the trees to see the forest. To understand the shape of the business landscape and how it will address this. Therefore, they need to be inquisitive and adventurous. Even the majority of BoDs are senior executives, they need to break down the “status quo,” present learning agility and show the inquisitiveness to ask the tough and right questions about strategy, information, talent or risk management, to continue questioning on important issues where management's answers do not make sense. To ensure there is a strong context for establishing the tactical choices and the surprises that will invariably show up. The board represents the ownership and they really cannot do a good job if they don't have the courage and knowledge to question and challenge and set the broad strategic goals, culture tone, and the digital theme of boardroom itself.

Innovation: Digital is the age of innovation, and innovation is what leads to differentiation. Innovation should be embedded in every aspect of the organization, the great ideas can come from front line workers, but innovation leadership comes from the top, and innovation management should be demystified in a structural way to improve the success rate. Hence, boards play a significant role in influencing and setting guidelines and policies for building the culture of innovation. The Boards of Directors need to practice creative thinking, participate, or even lead in the area of innovation from outliers’ viewpoint, to see things differently and help connect the unusual dots for both innovation management and management innovation. It means to accelerate innovation at the multitude of levels, to create the space for dialogue and debate about why it is important for their organization, developing a common understanding of it, creating the necessity and motivation for it.

There are many ingredients in building a high-performance digital board. As the top leadership team, the board just has to step into the digital vision, exemplify digital leadership effectiveness, to both have an overview and do a credible drill down, and walk the talk in driving the business transformation.


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