Digitizing Boardroom

A highly effective and wise Board exhibits a creative tension, that hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

Modern corporate boards play significant roles in guiding businesses in the right direction and achieve expected business results. Due to the “VUCA” characteristics -Complexity, Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and Velocity of the Digital Era, the directorship in any organization must have the agility to adapt to changes and build abilities to advise, inspire and motivate a group of people toward accomplishing shared visions and goals. If a Board is to fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities to its stakeholders, it needs to take a professional and systematic approach for assessing strategy, prioritizing agendas, advising changes, overseeing risks and keeping track of business performance via efficient tools. BoDs perhaps do not always participate in developing business strategy, but the Board needs to determine suitability, adequacy, viability, and sustainability of the organization in advance.

  • Envision the future of directorship with twenty-three digital boardroom themes.
  • Oversee business strategies with digital fluidity, digital mindset, and contextual intelligence.
  • Make policies and effective decisions on transforming boards from conformance to performance driven.
  • Rejuvenate boardrooms via participating in both innovation management and management innovation.
  • Highlight the importance of building IT friendly and technology-savvy digital boards.
  • Develop the best and next governance practices towards achieving corporate excellence.
  • Advocate digital fitness and innovate people management to become “Talent Master.”
  • Set digital culture tones, and fine-tune processes to make boards highly effective and highly mature.

Chapter 1 The Digital Themes of Boardrooms: With many organizations and the society as a whole reaching the inflection point of digital transformation, the modern corporate board as one of the top governance bodies plays a crucial role in setting business leadership tones and driving the organization’s digital transformation. A professional digital board is not only about filling with cool-headed, high-professional and high-intelligent BoDs, but also about tuning the structured process to digitize itself, optimize decision-making capacity, inspire innovation, and improve its overall effectiveness, agility, and maturity.

Chapter 2 A Strategic Board: The board plays a critical role in overseeing business strategies, it is important to keep the board strategically focused. Also, the board as the top leadership team advises business strategies, it doesn’t always mean the Board itself is being strategic enough. The board represents the ownership and they really cannot do a good job if they don't have the knowledge to challenge and set the broad strategic goals. They need to educate themselves by hearing different views about the organization, its environment & digital ecosystem, strategic alternatives and develop a clear vision on how to move the business forward. The Board is accountable for ensuring that the strategy being followed is appropriate for the organization and the environments within which the organizations operate. A digital board not only oversees strategy but also influences the process as well. The process of strategic planning is the best indicator of how well a board really understands and invests time in learning about their companies and also identifies the levels of collaboration, synergy, trust, and confidence that exist between the board and executives of the organization.

Chapter 3 A Performance-driven Board: Corporate Performance Management (CPM) has many descriptors and understandings globally. However, there is universal agreement that best practice performance management frameworks should inform the board, management, staff and key stakeholders on the performance of the organization in delivering services or programs efficiently, in achieving organizational outcomes effectively and in making the progress towards achieving sustainability effortlessly. There is no question that performance is the priority for boards. Many boards think that the role of the individual director is conformance, which has the result to stifle probing questions and natural tensions that allow for good decision-making. There is no doubt that the board only fulfills its role to shareholders and the management team when it is focused on performance. To some degree, conformance is inherent within the value-driven performance.

Chapter 4 An Innovative Board: The Boards of Directors are interactive change agents that represent the organization, stockholders, and senior management. No longer are boards sitting in a room and just voting on various policies. It is one of the requirements of the Board members to participate, or even lead, in constantly suggesting areas of innovation since their vistas are likely to be wider, and also because the Board should be highly accountable for strategies for the future of the company. The board plays a crucial role in management innovation as well. Management innovation means to accelerate innovation at the multitude of levels, to create the space for dialogue and debate about why it is important for their organization, developing a common understanding of it, creating the necessity and motivation for it. It also needs to align innovation strategy with key ingredients of management innovation, such as the development of an innovative culture or business eco-system, which requires grounding in values, culture, behaviors, systems, and artifacts as well as collaboration with key stakeholders.

Chapter 5 An IT Friendly Board: Information is the lifeblood and one of the most invaluable assets in digital businesses today, technology is the disruptive force behind the digital transformation. IT is a business catalyst. More often than not, IT directly impacts on strategy shaping. Therefore, Digital BoDs need to become more information savvy and technology smart. The foremost thing for BoD is to realize that IT is strategic; and as such, it should be a distinct part of the business strategy telling how to maintain compliant and secure and how to enable business growth. Given how the use of IT is becoming so intrinsically important to so many different enterprises, meaning that corporate governance typically dominated by other traditional executives is quite un-alert to the implications and opportunities afforded by the most effective use of IT. It is incumbent to better understand corporate governance processes and how IT can effectively and proactively contribute to such processes. An IT-friendly board should change the perspective to understand the power of information and the potential of technology.

Chapter 6 A “Governance Champion” Board: Business governance is the other important responsibility of the corporate board. Governance is a sophisticated process that if well executed, will lead to better decisions. It will allow not only to protect the existing value but also to create new value for its shareholders. With the increasing speed of changes and digital velocity, the best practices of Boardrooms also need to be updated. If boards are still using traditional risk management frameworks and management showing graphs and curves to the board, they are often moving forward by driving through a rear mirror view. And because the biggest risk for the business is beyond those traditional graphs and curves, Boards need to master risk management to identify both business risks and opportunities, keep focusing on governance effectiveness and risk intelligence.

Chapter 7 A “Talent Master” Board: People are always the most invaluable asset in businesses. Digitalization and globalization have a huge impact on the business world, and talent has become the defining theme of this new digital paradigm. “Hiring the right person for the right position at the right time,” is the mantra of many forward-thinking organizations. However, very few organizations have well-crafted people or human capital strategy as an integral element in their business strategy. The question is: The Board as a top leadership team to oversee strategy and innovate people management, how can you set good policies to value people in multidimensional ways?

Chapter 8: A Culture-Savvy Board: Many think boards do not pay enough attention to the culture within the company, since culture or subcultures can undermine strategy, they certainly should be concerned and seek assurance that the culture is aligned with the strategy and the values that form the foundation of the culture are aligned with the expectations of customers. The board has to pay more attention to the culture, which will "eat the strategy" otherwise. The company needs to determine its direction, and then assure that the culture supports the strategy. The board as a top-level leadership team should set the tune to build a culture of learning and innovation. Because the business culture is reflected and influenced by policies, practices, rewards, and incentives which are often made and influenced by the board. Often, executives and the board assume that these things are correct, but employees know they are not and can tell you what gets in the way. When culture is inspired at the board level, it can unlock powerful synergies that drive performance, especially in today's hyper-connected digital world that relies so much on collaboration and teamwork.

The modern digital board has many responsibilities, also gets a lot of distractions. It has to laser focus on the most critical perspectives to steering the business toward the right decision. BoDs are leadership roles, they should not only oversee business strategies and monitor business performance but also set the tone for the culture, become talent masters, they should walk the talk to become more learning agile, information savvy and innovative to adapt to the digital dynamic. A highly effective and wise Board exhibits a creative tension, that hard to define, but you know it when you see it.


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