Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inquiries of the Digital Boards

Directors need to be able to guide the senior management team through effective questioning, coaching, advising, and assessment of the business strategy management and performance.
Organizations today have to live up to the business dynamic which is uncertain, ambiguous, complex, and flux. The board as a high-level governance body plays a crucial role in business strategy oversight and performance monitoring, There is much to be done in terms of having appropriate competencies around the board table to deal with all aspects of digital transformation. Here is a set of digital inquiries about digital transformation.

Is the board sufficiently engaged with long-term opportunities and threats, such as digital transformation, sustainability, and the environment, or global shifts in the balance of economic power? The corporate board oversees the business strategy. The strategy is definitely a different beast nowadays because the speed of change is accelerating. The fact is that change is happening at a much faster pace than ever before, requiring a much more rapid response to survive and thrive. And the degree of Strategic Planning has a correlation with the degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. The real challenge is not in simplifying by ignoring the complications, but in simplifying by including the compilations. Although the board often delegates the tasks such as strategy-making to management. Nowadays, the boards perhaps should spend more time participating in strategy development as well because digital strategy execution is a dynamic and iterative continuum

For example, it is important to distinguish between conditions of 'known risk' vs. emergent uncertainty.' When you are formulating strategies under conditions of known risk, you have sufficient information to establish probabilities of alternative outcomes and the expected impact of strategic alternatives. However, "emergent uncertainties," is the unknowns below the tip of the iceberg with utmost relevance for the organization or entity you're planning for. So conditions of known risk are amenable to constructing alternative scenarios and evaluating them. It might be good to work with plans assumptions and scenarios, as long as you keep in mind that these have been elaborated from past experiences and past knowledge. If it is really unpredictable, that means the future cannot be, in any way, deduced from the past. As such, it becomes far more about influencing others to choose to allow/enable the success of your strategic goals. The BoDs see the development of strategy as a collective effort between themselves and management, rather than a question of “us versus them.” Management generates and shares ideas that stimulate debate among directors who are there to make positive, valuable contributions to strategy development, not just to provide a critique of the ideas they are presented with.

Board Directors need to understand the difference between being a Director and the Operator of the business. Directors need to be able to guide the senior management team through effective questioning, coaching, advising, and assessment of the business strategy management and organizational performance.

Do we possess the ability, will, and discipline to cope with change along the way, no matter what happens? The Boards of 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.

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.

BoDs set policies and principles for changes and digital transformation. Change management is an interdependent ecosystem that includes many business factors: The company goals, policies, internal control requirements, customer experience improvements/customer satisfaction, etc., all should be synchronized without compromising the need for any item, Staff want to be involved in developing policies and procedures to achieve the organization’s goals, but this has to be meaningful involvement and be seen to be meaningful.

A digital-ready board has the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, and trustworthiness, preparing and launching change, and innovation, and mastering digital fluency to make profound leadership influence.

What demand does strategy create for new information technology-enabled capability, and how will you bring that to reality? Nowadays, information and technology are the disruptive forces behind digital transformations. The matter of fact is that the changes sweeping the world are hugely disruptive and there is nowhere to hide. The changes are touching every industry and activity, but they have yet to produce a wave of response at the board level.

Not every board member needs to be versed in IT, but every board needs to have the IT-related expertise and experience to formulate relevant questions and understand management's answers. There is still a propensity to try to make the technology changes "go away" or to ignore them. An IT-friendly board should change its perspective to understand the power of information and the potential of technology. The dilemma about the breadth and depth of IT conversation.

Because IT is an enabler of current and future capability for both the organization and its ecosystem (the market comprising competitors, suppliers, and other agents, regulators, and so on) much of the board conversation about IT should be framed in respect of the business activities and the ecosystem. IT can make or break a business easily these days, and IT strategy is an integral component of the business strategy. To build the digital board with a high “Tech IQ,” and digital savvy, BoDs need to understand how the information can make an impact on the business growth, and how the digital technologies can be the pathfinder of the business transformation.

It is the recipe of characteristics derived from the constructs above that create high levels of synergy within and between the board and executive. It is the trust and confidence that allow the board to positively influence organizational performance through the executives.


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