Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Three Questions to Assess the Board’s Digital Readiness?

Corporate Boards bring wisdom, ‘deep common sense,’ leadership proficiency, strategic viewpoint, growth cycle balance, creativity, progressiveness.

The corporate board plays a crucial role in business advising and monitoring, setting key digital tones, and making good policies. To drive changes and advocate innovations, the board needs to digitize and innovate itself, to exemplify leadership influence, and walk the talk in leading digital transformation. Here are three questions to assess the digital readiness of the corporate boardroom.

Is corporate board too congenial? Due to the “VUCA” digital new normal, the real BoD’s dilemma is that driving business forward is extremely difficult. It means that you have to look into an unknown future and attempting to define the landscape with its opportunities and risks. In fact, there are many blind spots clouding the vision and there are numerous pitfalls hidden on the way. Therefore, to bridge gaps and fill blindspots, boards should make an objective self-assessment: Is the board too congenial? Do board directors truly practice critical thinking and embrace the “diversity of thoughts”? Can the board make effective decisions and advise the business executives widely? From the board composition perspective, the directors need to be diverse by industry background, mindsets, skill, experience level, recombinant capability, and fresh perspective. This diversity along with deep knowledge of the business will allow them to be real "thought partners" with senior management as they consider the long term goals beyond quarterly earnings. To avoid group thinking or silo thinking, building a high-effective board requires multidimensional thinking, requires asking questions, make a balance of multiple perceptions and appreciate the unique business insight. The important issue in the boardroom is how the board can accommodate diverse opinions and how they assess them and leverage collective insight into good decisions all board directors support, with the ultimate goal to build a highly effective and high mature digital board.

Is corporate board progressive enough? The corporate board as top leadership team exemplifies leadership influence and set principles and policies for driving business changes. Thus, the board must be progressive and advanced enough to lead ahead rather than lagging behind. The board needs to be open-minded, foresightful, knowledgeable, innovative and committed in order to contribute to strategy oversight effectively when required at all times. The progressive digital boards can also provide a clear vision, steer the business in the right direction via leadership skills such as delegation, decision-making, and monitoring. The board also set the top leadership’s tone for progression and affects most through cohesive communication, congruent behavior, and continuous endorsement of the change to keep the momentum.  Progressive boards make sound judgments based on in-depth understanding and multidimensional intelligence. Progress is not hanging onto judgments from a way that does not apply. The board directors also need to advocate innovation and pursue progress proactively. From the board composition perspective, it is 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 to push for collective progress.

Can corporate board set the right tone for digital transformation? The advanced board is the mastermind behind digital transformation because it plays a crucial role in setting digital tones for the management to follow, making good policies for catalyzing digital transformation, setting innovation tones for building business competency, and adjusting cultural tones for inspiring learning and creativity. The Board provides an “outside-in” view of businesses and multi-dimensional lenses to oversee and advise business strategy and execution. The board directorship and leadership need to be future oriented. Accountability and oversight are all part of the game changes that boards must address. Understanding the importance of IT to the company’s business model and growth is important for effective oversight of IT investments and technology initiatives. The digital savvy board can set the right tone for digital transformation via providing great feedback to the top management to improve and asking insightful questions to become self-aware, encourage the organization to innovate, grow, and mature, for leading toward the upward direction.

The board’s digital readiness is based on many factors. Corporate Boards bring wisdom, ‘deep common sense,’ leadership proficiency, strategic viewpoint, growth cycle balance, creativity, progressiveness. They focus on shareholder and stakeholder communications, practice better governance, bring business strategy oversight,, and oversee better risk management with strong discipline.  


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