Thursday, April 20, 2017

Digital Boards with Vision Inquiries

Leadership or directorship is about setting directions and inspiring changes.

The contemporary corporate board as the top leadership team plays a directorial role in envisioning the future of the business and overseeing corporate strategy. Because leadership is about future and change. Vision is not the “Nice to have,” but “Must have” quality for top leaders in order to direct the organization toward the uncharted water or blurred territories in today’s “VUCA” digital dynamic. Vision is basically a qualitative statement defining the "perception" of the organization, and the effective board provides the guidance on what core to preserve and what future to stimulate progress toward. Here are a few vision inquiries of digital boards.

Does the board articulate its role in supporting a long-term vision for the business effectively? Vision statements bear you long-term goals that you have envisioned for the growth of your business, your reason for existence. Vision is a destination, and strategy is the roadmap. As the vision is like a journey you want to embark on, but you would need the knowledge and capabilities to implement, this journey roadmap is "strategy." The corporate board needs to play the directorial role by scrutinizing both vision and strategy effectively. If the company has a clear vision, everything starts moving in the right direction. If the leadership team can design a good strategy and execute it well, it can achieve the high-performance business result for the long term. The vision statement is very difficult to establish if the company (the executive teams and shareholders) doesn't have a strategic analysis, a strategy, and the most important thing, a purpose of business. Hence, the visionary board as the directorial role needs to play an important role in both envisioning and supporting a long-term vision for the business’s long-term prosperity.

How often is the vision thing discussed at board meetings? Vision is required at any given stage of an organization’s lifespan. Without continuous envisioning of a better future, organizations will become short-sighted, static, and even irrelevant. A vision is an integral part of any company’s strategy. As you cannot plan your strategy if you do not know what your vision for the company is. Hence, the vision thing needs to be revisited when the board oversees the dynamic business strategy.  Furthermore, no vision and strategy will ever be successful without the input from ALL staff in the total company. The board can invite the business visionaries at the different layer of the organization to the meeting. So often vision and strategy are treated as confidential and no "buy-in" from shop floor level is achieved. Thereby negating complete participation at all levels. Digital means the increasing speed of change, building a change vision is often most difficult as it requires the alignment at the most senior levels (such as the board level) and needs to link to the overall strategic imperatives of the company. Given that a change vision includes a coherent and powerful statement of what the desired future state can be and focuses on common goals, everyone must have the same definition of the future state. Only then can you develop a compelling change story that all employees can relate to. The corporate board should set the tone to “baking in” the vision into the DNA (culture) and drive change proactively.

What could make your vision cloudy and how to clarify it etc: A vision is how you see the future unfolding, how you dream about what the future will look like from your standpoint, and how to direct people and business toward the destination you envisioned? The strategy makes a vision happen. The true vision is a reflective process of an organization really understanding itself and its purpose, to perceive the future of business. The vision could be cloudy due to the “VUCA” characteristics of digital new normal. Anybody with a dream can draw up a vision. It needs people such as BoDs with the strategic insight into the problem to carve up the vision in actionable steps. Nowadays there are too many distractions which could make your vision cloudy. Thus, visionary leaders and BoDs are always rare breeds and in strong demand, because they are able to look further and perceive deeper, based on their intuition and analysis. At its core, leadership is the journey for problem-solving. Visionary leaders see possibilities before others, but they also need to tackle great challenges with grand consequences over long time spans; they convey a vision based on principles that make an advanced movement. Visionary leaders often have better sense to capture the business trend, be genuinely curious about information, knowledge and future perspectives, so they can clarify the vision and drive changes more confidently.

Leadership or directorship is about setting directions and inspiring changes. The vision thing does need to become a common topic at the big table. Because if the strategy has been crafted without a clear vision, it may never reach the true destination. “Make vision reachable” and "make strategy happen" has to be accessible, understandable and made relevant to all levels of the organization for keeping the team on the same page and drive the business toward the right direction steadfastly.


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