Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Hybrid Digital Boardroom

The hybrid digital boards are diversified, cognitive, proactive, and instrumental, bring different opinions and viewpoints and orchestrate change and digital transformation seamlessly.

With the increasing pace of changes, overwhelming growth of information, and continuous digital disruptions, businesses today need to ride the change waves and catch the rising digital tide timely. Digital organizations today have the hybrid reality with both physical structures and virtual presence, the old way and the new way of doing things. They need to figure out all sorts of hybrid solutions as well. From a management perspective, digital hybridity means how to strike the right balance of change and stability; innovation and standardization; transaction and transformation. From the governance perspective, the digital board needs to adopt a hybrid model and take the holistic discipline with mixed leadership styles for steering the business in the right direction.

The Hybrid Thinking: The challenge facing organizations these days is related to increasing complexity, unprecedented uncertainty & ambiguity, and accelerating rate of change. Thus, the board of directors as senior leaders need to leverage hybrid thinking which is a set of interdisciplinary and integrative thought processes for either making sound judgments or effective decisions. Collectively, the board as a team should embrace cognitive differences, leverage systems intelligence, complement each others’ experience & skills, be diverse by industry background, mindsets and perspective, be able to capture the diversified insight into complex business circumstances, see things from different angles and come out multifaceted perspectives and balanced viewpoints. It is the difference in thinking and perspectives, and the hybrid thinking styles enable the board to avoid groupthink syndrome, improve its decision effectiveness and reach high leadership maturity. The directors having deep knowledge of the business will allow them to be real "thought partners" with senior management as they consider the longer term goals.

The Hybrid leadership style: Now, we are slowly but steadily moving to the digital economy with an abundance of knowledge and continuous disruptions. Digital transformation is the journey for solving problems caused by "out of balance," “lack of logic,” and “full of uncertainty.” The leadership challenge in the boardroom is about how to fill blindspots, bridge insight gaps and make a leap of digitalization. To lead today’s technology-savvy knowledge workforce, command & control management style is simply not fit in and will run out of steam soon. Because you can set rules to control people’s behaviors, but you can’t manipulate how they think and what they learn from the varying resources in today's hyperconnected knowledge economy. The leaders must leverage the hybrid leadership style - “push & pull,” “listening & telling,” “asking & answering,” etc., focus on understanding, convincing, persuasion, and collaboration, set the digital principles to enforce inclusiveness, flexibility, innovativeness, and empathy in order to win the mind and touch the heart, to make change happening effortlessly.

The hybrid business view: The board as senior leadership team needs to steer their organization toward the uncharted water or blurred territories with unprecedented uncertainty and complexity. To lead effectively, they should share both the futuristic perspective of the business and historical lesson learned. Driving the business forward is extremely difficult. They have to look into an unknown future and attempt to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities and provide guidance about what core to preserve and what future to stimulate the business progress toward. To avoid risks, the seasoned board of directors with decades of experiences should share invaluable lessons in the past from time to time. Without taking a breath to look back, plowing on to the next big thing before completely pulling all resources or running multiple simultaneous changes can be risky. Keep in mind though, your windshield is larger than your rearview mirror for a reason. Sometimes looking at the past too long or too much inhibits looking forward and make the progress. This is particularly important for the senior leadership team such as BoDs. The digital board directors’ views of the business should be both broad and deep, insightful and foresightful, in order to navigate the better pathway for the business to reach its vision and the destination.

Under today’s “VUCA” business dynamic, practicing digital leadership is challenging. Evaluation, analysis, and strategic or long-term planning should top the list in the digital board’s agenda. The hybrid digital boards are diversified, cognitive, proactive, and instrumental, bring different opinions and viewpoints to orchestrate change and digital transformation seamlessly.


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