Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The “Sense and Sensitivity” of the Digital BoDs

A digital-savvy BoDs equipped with the right dose of “sense and sensitivity,” has the advantage of driving change with steadfast speed.

Digitalization is driving unpredictability, demanding a more rapid deployment that can quickly adapt to the changes and adjust to the new business dynamic. Digital boards as the directorship role are like the steering wheel of their company, leading the business toward the uncharted water and blurred territories for reaching the ultimate digital destination. Digital BoDs can sense the opportunities, but also be sensitive to the perils on the way. Here are three pairs of “sense and sensitivity” in the digital boardroom.

A sense of future direction of the business, but be sensitive to the risks on the way: Digital has the “VUCA” characteristics - velocity, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It implies both business opportunities and risks on the way. The board directors as the top business advisor role need to have unique insight and sufficient knowledge to understand the business ecosystem and sense that the digitalization is multifaceted; they should have the business vision to predict the emergent trend of business, technology or industry. The board needs to be engaged at the most senior levels to help influence, have a sense of the business direction, and shape the business of the future. It also means taking control of the softer issues such as setting policy, leveraging strategic thinking, setting risk appetite, and have the sensitivity of the pitfalls on the way. This includes addressing risks to reputation, and the need to be transparent and the ability to define risk appetite and risk culture for the business. The board's ‘Deep common sense” leads toward ”Effective Judgment," which has been defined as leveraged sense and sensitivity, measured reasoning, knowledge, and experience to come to an effective strategy oversight. This means looking into an unknown future and attempting to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities, to steer the business ship to the fine-tuned vision.

A sense of urgency for changes but be sensitive to the emotion behind changes: Contribution to the business strategy and business change agenda are the two places where most value can be added by BoDs. Change starts with a "sense of urgency," which can only come from top management and BoDs. The good moment to change is when the top senses the urgency and the bottom feel the pain, and change inertia is minimized via common understanding about the necessity and imperatives of changes. The corporate board should set the tone to “baking in” the vision into the culture and drive changes proactively. Besides having a sense of urgency to change, the board also needs to be sensitive to the psychology of the change. There are full emotion cycles behind changes, and it is the mixed bag of positive emotions and negative emotions. The positive emotions include the openness to new ideas and perspective, the optimism for things getting better, the passion to discover, or the empathy to understand other parties. The negative emotions include resistance to change, fear, doubt, change inertia, etc. Driving the business forward is extremely difficult. The change agent digital BoDs’ challenge is how you move the ‘needle’ forward and have both sense and sensitivity to really mind the digital gap to accelerate your organization’s digitalization.

A sense of creativity for creating “free atmosphere” in the boardroom, be sensitive to collect valuable feedback: Digital is the age of innovation, no longer are boards sitting in a room and just voting on various policies, to focus on compliance only. Digital directors are inquisitive to ask great, tough questions for deepening their business understanding. Digital boards are diverse and innovative, they have a sense of urgency to digitize the boardroom, and also show a sense of humor to self-criticize. it is so important to seek out different voices to overcome “VUCA” new normal. Because at every level of organizations today, we need different perspectives, the multitude of insights, dynamic knowledge, and alternative ways to solve emergent and old challenging problems. Sometimes there is not "one" answer: there are some, or many: that is why what is first of all needed is to think as a team. The digital BoDs are usually good listeners, they act like a sponge and absorb information, ask lots of questions, and all along they are really the smartest guy/gals in the room but never let on. They show extreme humility and a sense of humor as that is at the root of how they conduct themselves and be sensitive to listen and collect valuable feedback.

A digital-savvy BoDs equipped with the right dose of “sense and sensitivity,” has the advantage of pulling enough resources and pushing the business model innovation, driving changes, enabling and directing the management towards good outcomes, and ensure the business is on the right track to reach well-set strategic goals and the pinnacle of the innovation blossom.


Post a Comment