Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Corporate Board’s Unbiased View

 Only a balanced board with unbiased view can make tough decisions, be objective, and lead progressively with accelerated speed. 

The digital dynamic creates many blind spots and generates quite a lot of gaps due to its “VUCA” characteristics - velocity, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Thus, the directorship in forward-thinking organizations must have capabilities to advise and motivate, set the right leadership tone, and develop digital “mindsets.” To steer change confidently, Yin and Yang's balance needs to be considered in the boardroom in regards to shape the unbiased view for making strategic decisions and improving leadership maturity.

The board directors have the privilege to take an unbiased view of multiple issues: Being objective means you are not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; but make judgments or decisions based on unbiased fact, dispassionate examination, and objective opinions. Being objective is of or relating to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality. It is the opposite of biases and stereotypes. Often, the lack of objectivity is caused by the narrow lens, see the tree, but miss the forest; know the part, but ignore the whole; take a snapshot, but forget the dynamic. Absolute objectivity is perhaps impossible to achieve. Every decision requires a different way of thinking. Hence, it is critical for digital board directors to embrace cognitive differences and practice multifaceted thinking (critical thinking, independent thinking, strategic thinking, and innovative thinking, etc.) skills for improving decision effectiveness.

Board leaders need to provide an unbiased opinion for effective decision-making: Asking the right questions helps to validate how thoroughly and deeply the board is thinking on a particular issue, avoids group thinking and sets the tone for leadership effectiveness. Everything has to do with the search for the truth of any given situation. Perception is sometimes a false reality. A holistic perspective can fix the misperception by exploring multiple thought processes; willing to listen to the diverse viewpoint, zooming out to capture the bigger picture and seeking new information/knowledge to gain a better understanding and holistic view. To find the truth, one must remove the “old box” shaped via the conventional wisdom or group thinking, but think more critically, independently and in an out-of-box way. The best you can do for improving objectivity is to be consciously aware that data is filtered and do your best to make sure your filters support thriving. The most important capability of cognitive mind is the willingness and ability to seek out relevant knowledge, gain an in-depth understanding, and address our ignorance and the assumptions we make to minimize it.

Digital board should learn how to “balance” well cross the business ecosystem perspective: The capability of striking the digital balance can differentiate a digital leader from a follower. The challenge facing organizations these days is related to increasing complexity, unprecedented uncertainty & ambiguity, and increasing rate of change. Top leadership role such as the corporate board often involves unbiased policy setting. It is important to make a set of common principles, not to make dual or even triple standards in making a judgment.  Hence, digital BoDs need to be multidimensional thinkers who can reflect and offer diversified insight into such situations, to see things from a different angle and come out with multifaceted perspectives and balanced viewpoints. Build the Board's assessment tool to address objectivity. To be objective, board directors must step out of what they are trying to understand, zoom out in order to capture the holistic picture, learn to be impartial which means adjective neutral, objective, detached, just, fair, equal, open-minded, equitable, disinterested, unbiased, even-handed, nonpartisan, unprejudiced, without fear or favor. Otherwise, your false perception based on the construct of your ego or self-expression could block the way and cloud the view. 

The digital ecosystem is living, dynamic, hyper-connected, and interdependent. Hence, the corporate board needs to expand its vision to connect the dots within the digital ecosystem for improving decision effectiveness and governance maturity. The Board is responsible for ensuring an appropriate mix of skills, knowledge, and experience are present or available for it to fulfill its function. Only a balanced board with unbiased view can make tough decisions, be objective, and lead progressively with accelerated speed. 


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