Wednesday, September 8, 2021


Navigation competency of the corporate board requires the multidimensional understanding of both tangible and intangible business success factors, overcome silo or overly rigid polarity, strike the right balance of standardization and personalization, stability and innovation.

We live in a more volatile, uncertain, ambiguous and globally distributed world. Business leaders today are able to scan the external environment to make sure that they can see trends, patterns, and signals that are going to have an impact on the company’s future growth. 

Corporate boards play a critical role in steering their organization in the right direction. On the navigation dimension, they have more antennae focused on the trends, risks, and what’s going on in the business and the world. They oversee the organizational strategy, co-design and refine the fitting business culture, reinvent leadership by integrating the perceptions of the next generation of leaders, tapping into their way of looking at the world, frame and solve complex problems with very collaborative working styles, and orchestrate the business transformation proactively.

Strategic navigation: Corporate board oversees the organizational strategy; a strategy is based on what is known or can be predicted at a point in time. Nowadays, a strategy is not static, business leaders need to make timely adjustments for adapting to the changing environment. Part of the strategy could well contain research into finding root causes to core problems the business intends to solve. Works with business executive management and other stakeholders to understand the various influences and strategic factors. Which problems at the strategic level you intend to solve? WHAT are potential opportunities? What is known & What are things you want to do to implement strategy. Diagnosis of a challenge is always the first step of good strategy. Without root causes identified, what are you fixing? The environment which the company is in changes over time, new competitors in the market or changed customer demand - as such, the root causes can change as well.

Another important input from the board to develop a strategic direction comes from converting an opportunity to business, which is very different from root cause analysis. BoDs can navigate the strategy by making insightful inquiries about: External WHOs: The fundamental of business is to create a customer. Well defining prospective customers helps strategy find a purpose. Besides customers, who are partners, competitors, how to orchestrate customer & partner ecosystems to co-create ideas and capture business growth opportunities. Internal “WHOs”: Is there the right talent at the right position to serve the targeted customers. Those who do can create better strategies via taking feedback and effective communication and show the right direction to the team which gets enlightened. WHERE are Roadblocks, and When to revisit strategy:

Cultural navigation: Culture has context and its relative to the group of people that follow it or share a common set of beliefs. Culture is not a mythical "thing" that comes automatically. It results from a lot of factors such as the founder/executive leaders’ personal philosophies, business endeavors, goals. It’s shaped by interactions between employees, management, and the environment. There can be diverse and sometimes conflicting cultures that coexist due to sub divisional culture and different characteristics of the management teams. BoD leaders can help the management identify culture related issues, understand the inertia of the culture as well as culture cause-effects.

The corporate board’s role, in large part, is to make good decisions that enhance the value creation for the organization, and advocate a set of cohesive digital culture as a pathway to change. BoDs can envision the new culture and navigate culture change by setting good policies, empowering change leaders/agents, developing the best and next practices to build the new corporate attitude and habits. They influence or enhance the culture via empowerment and delegation. Culture is not something that can be dictated and followed such as a new policy or rule from management. Technically, to change "culture" is to change the persistent emotional experience of the people working in the organization and their collective habit of thinking and doing things there. It has to permeate into the fluid business environment and needs to be nurtured via cross boundary communication and collaboration consistently.

Leadership navigation: The business world we live in is in a rapid paradigm shift, leadership is all about direction and making progressive change via a clear vision and multidimensional intelligence. With abundant knowledge, today’s business leaders need to be inclusive and the learning agile. No one will have all the answers, the success of the business transformation is based on open leadership, seamless collaboration and collective efforts. BoDs as senior leaders can co-set standards or criterias to evaluate top tier leadership profiles, focus on cognitive differences, differentiated competency, varying career paths or life experience, as well as leadership philosophy, etc.

Companies don’t exist in silos but within the hyperconnected global system, which is about crossing not only geographical borders but also cultural divides between business, government, and social sectors. The qualities and competencies of contemporary global leaders include such as tolerance of ambiguity, cultural flexibility, learning agility, handling complexity, communicating virtually, and working across cultures. Besides being brilliant and demonstrating subject expertise, business leaders must be a strong communicator and a strategic thinker, and know how to collaborate with stakeholders of all stripes. They have high influence competence, and will be more flexible and less rigidly tied to the top-down, command-and-control environment.

The corporate board is diversified, cognitive, proactive, and instrumental; they oversee strategies, set policies, catalyze changes, and monitor performance to improve business effectiveness. Navigation competency of the corporate board requires the multidimensional understanding of both tangible and intangible business success factors, overcome silo or overly rigid polarity, strike the right balance of standardization and personalization, stability and innovation. They also oversee other broad areas like investing, architecture, policy & principle setting, etc, drive competitive value and global growth. They are insightful navigators and relentless change leaders.


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