Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The “Bellwether Board”: How to Set Tones for Catalyzing Digital Transformation

The bellwether digital board plays a crucial role in setting digital tones for the management to follow.

The modern corporate board as a top leadership team plays a significant role in overseeing the business strategy and advising the organization management. The directorship in any organization must have the ability to guide, inspire and motivate a group of people toward accomplishing shared visions and goal. So, do you have the bellwether board that can set the digital tones to influence the business “mindset” and lead changes as well as digital transformation effortlessly?

Setting positive policies to improve organization effectiveness: There are some organizations out there that have a plethora of policies and many of them are nothing more than that, just a policy. What do positive policies look like in action- they look like making the right things easy to do by everyone and the wrong things hard to do by everyone because everyone is on the same playing field despite differences in roles/job titles and such. If business leaders do not care about positively growing and developing the people within the organization and act in alignment with business effectiveness, then no amount of writing positive policies will cure the collective mindset; and the organization will continue to be in an "unhealthy" status. We have to shift gears and mindsets to see the culture of an organization as a collective whole living breathing, a human system composed of uniquely diverse people who have much to offer to grow and develop the high performing digital organization to keep employees engaging and growing, to become who they want to be. Band-aids/quick fixes are not sufficient. The cure comes from within the people/ organization- the collective whole, whether individual or a group that we want to change from how they are working by appreciating the right things they are doing to improve the overall organizational effectiveness.

Setting change tones for improving business dynamic: The Board Directors are interactive change agents that represent the organization, stockholders, and senior management. BoDs and top leadership teams make a significant influence on setting digital tones and shaping the digital mindset of the organization. It requires that you move from mind SET to mind FLOW, from fixed mind to growth mind, from static mind to agility mind, so that it allows the mind to seek possibility. With increasing speed of changes, it is in the BoD’s mindset to either adapt or embrace the changes, and they also set the change tones to let management follow. It has been said that to embrace change requires a change of mindset at every level and an understanding that things cannot stay the same. This is the groundwork that has to be done at all levels prior to initiating major change. To achieve that, BoDs need deep insight into how things work just by analyzing the aggregates (not necessary to dive into the details). Asking good and pertinent questions are critical for governing changes so the directors would have to be able to quickly assess any numbers and facts they are given, against applicable benchmarks and detect relevant hints for further questioning or confirmation.

The boardroom should set the tone for both management innovation and innovation management: Management innovation 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. It also needs to align innovation strategy with key ingredients of management innovation, of the things that a board will do while seeking to become a part of the corporation's competitive advantage. Effective BoDs are the business advisor and even strategic critic who master at critical thinking and advocate innovation. Effective BoDs are excellent critical thinkers who can ask insightful questions to get at the truth of a situation while being mindful is a powerful tool; they are also out of the box thinkers who can bring interdisciplinary knowledge, the variety of experiences to connect the broader dots and catalyze innovation. The bellwether BoDs can provide excellent feedback which gives the top management accurate information to improve; great questions to self-aware; and keen insight to help the organization innovate, grow and mature. Innovation is one of the keys to the success of any organization. Smart companies are reaching beyond the borders of their organizations to discover the new opportunity for innovation and manage it systematically.

The bellwether digital board plays a crucial role in setting digital tones for the management to follow. It sets the positive policy for improving business effectiveness; sets the change tones for catalyzing digital transformation, and also sets the innovation tone for building the business’s differentiated capability and competency. Accountability and oversight are all part of the game changes that boards must address. And the board clearly has a role to play in all the major essential elements of making an enterprise successful for the long term.


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