Thursday, September 2, 2021


The board of directors needs to spread their precious time on critical issues wisely, stand up as high as they can and look in every direction they could, look through past, present, and the future accordingly.

In  the industrial age, businesses are considerably static, with slower speed of changes, therefore, analytics is a predominant management style to break things down, creating silos for improving a certain level of efficiency. Now we are gradually moving in the digital era with hyper-connectivity, interdependence, rapid change and abundant knowledge. Synthesis is a crucial leadership skill, especially at the top level, for avoiding reinventing the wheel, understanding core business competency, shaking things up via seamless integration; and gaining an objective strategic oversight for leading business transformation holistically. 

At the boardroom, directorship is about setting directions and inspiring changes; embracing diverse views to establish a great business landscape. Their synthesizing leadership labeled based on temporal lenses helps to clarify the vision, gain a deep understanding of business competency, and improve the success rate of strategy management.

Capturing an objective view of the corporate core competency from historical perspective: Modern companies have both physical asset and soft asset, their true value proposition is based on a set of core business competencies to achieve higher than expected business results. There are valuable lessons to draw on in one's past from time to time. with rich and invaluable leadership lessons to learn from. Corporate boards oversee strategies, as seasoned executives, BoD’s synthetic view of corporate knowledge, insight, capability, action and results from a historical lens allows them to understand their business strength, evaluate the level of capability/capacity coherence and maturity, highlight important lessons-learned, recognize possible conflicts that could approach from where they have been.

The seasoned board leaders have enriched knowledge and plenty of experience. The past holds comforting thoughts in times of great stress or pain. Looking back with discernment helps them understand where the businesses are, any immediate gaps or dangers that make the forward view unrealistic; have a solid grasp on what has been tried before and analyze why those initiatives didn't succeed. Then, synthesizing all quality information and crucial knowledge to develop their insight of business reality and potential. So in some ways, the past is always present. It has value. Looking for the linkage between management and governance, between past and current; between the company insight out and its macro-environment, to be open-minded and continue updating their knowledge and share their synthetic view. Historical lessons are important-“those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." But be cautious as well: Sometimes, looking at the past inhibits forward progress. If you focus too long, too much on the past, you will not be prepared to react when potential obstacles enter your path ahead.

Deepening the level of understanding via analytics/synthesis of present business maturity based on core or multi-core business competencies: We must see where we are going. We need to see what is behind us, but not at the cost of losing our visibility forward. Corporate board governance ensures business strategy adequacy, decision effectiveness and risk intelligence. Every synthesis is built upon the results of a preceding analysis. Besides analysis - understanding the organization piece by piece. Synthetic leadership puts things up or makes the combination of components or elements to form a connected whole. Not only do they scrutinize their business capability via traditional categories, but more importantly, they also have a unique vision to integrate seemingly loose components into the new things - capability, patterns, assets, whatever to build core competency for enabling dynamic strategy execution.

In the rapidly evolving businesses and complex economic systems, to stay competitive, companies must explore the emerging horizon and ride steep change curves confidently. Competencies underpin business strategy. At the board level, Synthesis allows board directors to look out of problems before looking into the problems; apply nonlinear thinking over linear logic; step back from trivial details and see patterns, generalization, context and capture a bigger picture. They can insightfully repurpose, realign, rebuild, reinvent, or renew organizational capabilities according to the business vision, emerging trends, market needs or people centricity. They advocate progressive changes and help the management understand the business reality by putting things together, or blending things up respectively.

Shaping a holistic perspective of future-driven business competency and resolutions to unleash business potential: If traditional BoDs are compliance driven, then contemporary boards are performance driven and potential focused. They are more future-oriented and optimistic, perceiving “what could be,” to unlock business performance for the long run. They are change agents themselves for orchestrating ongoing business transformation. With high velocity, they see a conjunction of cognitive and philosophical thinking with a decidedly short term model where the present extends to an annual forecast and the future is no more than a year or two. Synthetic views enable board directors to see a full business picture more vividly via timeframe and integrate the multiple perspectives into premium solutions, embrace emergent business properties, and approach problems promptly and systematically.

A different living-context may require a different set of values to be adhered to, synthesis merges a dichotomy or in other words, the “for” and “against” perspectives, incorporating thesis and antithesis into a higher level of understanding where you synthesize and where both perspectives are incorporated to shape a balanced view of business transformation. The BoD’s oversight of business competency helps the management discover business purpose, identify differentiated competency of the organization, do strength/weakness analysis objectively, as well as evaluate the business capability portfolio maturity - can business continue to grow? Is the business in the upwards or downward business spiral? Is the company on the right track of building future driven business resolutions? Etc.

A business needs to make profit, just as a human needs to respiration, but that is not their purpose. In the emergent world with the nature of hyper-connectivity and over-complexity, we have to leave our old mechanistic view of the world behind us and look at the world through new eyes, connecting individuals or organizations into nature via a broader vision. The board of directors needs to spread their precious time on critical issues wisely, stand up as high as they can and look in every direction they could, look through past, present, and the future accordingly. Seeing the business or the world as it is, where it's moving, but also where it could be, help to take long term approach for business prosperity.


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