The business has become more challenging as the global market becomes more demanding. This change in the global market is putting pressure not only on Management but also on the Board. Strategy Development now demands that organizations should not only be effective but there should also be Board Excellence.
Today, the demand has ceased to be about spending more time. Boosting the effectiveness of the Board is not anymore about spending more time. The urgent call now is to focus on changing the nature of engagement between directors and the executive teams that they work with.
The Importance of Board Engagement
Changing the nature of the Board Engagement will lead Directors and CEOs to make effective use of their limited time. It will build the capacity of the Board Members to bring disparate points together. This is critical when keeping a Board functional rather than dysfunctional.
There are no shortcuts to building and maintaining a well-attuned Board and executive mechanics. These require hard work from the Board Members and a CEO with a thick skin. But a good Director will provide the extra effort, and an effective CEO will make the most of an engagement board’s limited time.
Achieving Board Engagement
Board Engagement can be built and it can be improved. The nature of engagement between the Directors and Management need not remain at a standstill. There are 5 areas to improve Board Engagement.
- Engagement between Board Meetings. This is more than just meetings. It is about touching based between meetings. When this is undertaken, it keeps Board Members informed and strengthens the Board’s hand on the company pulse. Engagement between Board Meetings minimizes the background time that slows up regular Board meetings.
- Engagement for Strategy Formulation. This area of improvement enables the Board to actively participate in the formation of strategy and be proactive. Participation is already encouraged right at its early formation and stress-testing of strategy.
- Engagement for Talent Development. When this is put in place, Board Members get to act like a highly effective search firm. This happens as a result of a change in focus from simply observing talent to actively activating them. This area of improvement raises the bar to actively cultivate talents.
- Engagement in the Field. This area of improvement may be something that may be new to Board Members. Often, the Board has been used to taking a role in policy making however they have not been part of operations. Engagement in the field is focused on assigning Directors specific operational areas to engage on. This will require the Board to visit at least one business site every 12 months. Doing this will bring a load of advantages as the Board gets to be more knowledgeable about the organization.
- Engagement on Tough Decisions. The main focus of this area is on the value of probing difficult, strategic decision making. One may wonder how can this build Board Engagement. Every Board Member need not have industry experience. Yet, they must have the courage to ask difficult questions. When this happens, you get to raise your Board from being dysfunctional to being functional and involved.
Board Engagement is very crucial at this point in time. It is not enough that they spend more time in Board meetings. It is not enough that they continue to assume roles that they have been doing before. The changing business environment has raised its spectrum when it comes to performance and effectiveness. And this does not only include Management or its employees. This now also involves the Board. Hence, the Board of today more be more engaged and take an active part in areas that are crucial to the organization to remain competitive.
Interested in gaining more understanding of Board Excellence through Engagement? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Board Excellence: Engagement here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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When things go wrong on a grand scale, often we direct our attention to the role of the Board. Debate exudes and often gets heated up and intensifies. This often happens when the Board spends more time looking in the rearview mirror and not enough scanning the road ahead. When this happens, governance suffers.
Often, the Board of Directors spend a bulk of its time on quarterly reports, audit reviews, budgets, and compliance. However, with the change in the business environment, there is a greater need to redirect the Board’s attention on matters crucial to the future prosperity and direction of the business. One of this is Strategy Development. Achieving this requires the development of a dynamic Board with a long-term mindset capable of creating forward-looking agenda and activities that get sufficient time over a 12-month period.
The Changing Board Agenda
The Board Agenda is changing. It is becoming more dynamic and it has increasingly highlighted forward-looking activities. Long-term economic, technological, and demographic trends are radically shaping the global economy. The second Industrial Revolution now requires the Board to shift focus. The Board is now challenged to focus on matters crucial to achieving Operational Excellence and the future direction of the organization. Directors must devote more time to strategic and forward-looking aspects of the agenda. They must cease seeing the job as supporting the CEO, but instead, be strategic in making sure long-term goals are formulated and met.
Having a forward-looking Board has now become every organization’s imperative. However, this can only be achieved if there is a solid foundation that is anchored on three guiding principles. Organizations must have the right Board Member, a clear definition of the Board’s role, and greater time commitment from members. At this time when a long-term mindset has come to a fore, these have become essential.
Developing a Long-term Mindset: The 4 Essential Tactics
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy are the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu
Organizations can undertake 4 essential tactics to encourage the Board to have a long-term mindset.
- Study the External Landscape. This is the starting point of creating a forward-looking mindset. The primary purpose of this tactic is to expose the Board to new technologies and market developments relevant to the company’s strategy. Studying the external landscape will challenge management with critical questions.
- Participate in Strategy Development. This tactic focuses on making strategy a vital part of the Board’s DNA. Participating in the Strategy Planning process will strengthen the Board’s role in co-creating and ultimately agreeing on the company’s strategy.
- Focus on Long-term Talent Development. The third tactic, this tactic focuses on unleashing the full power of the people. It will effectively reallocate skills and experience to a business with more potential. To achieve its expected result, the key is the Board must agree with management on a sensible approach to reviewing executive talent.
- Identify Existential Risks. This is the tactic that focused on the Risk Management of existential risks. Because of accelerating technological progress, existential risks have become a recent phenomenon. Existential risks have a great detrimental impact not only on business but also on mankind. The Boards have the duty to ensure that management teams pursue bottom-up investigations, identify key risk areas, and act on the results.
The 4 tactics are essentially effective in creating long-term mindsets. When this is achieved, Board Excellence is never far behind.
Interested in gaining more understanding of achieving Board Excellence via a Long-term Mindset? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Board Excellence: Long-term Mindset here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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The pressure on Boards and Directors to raise their game has remained acute. A survey of more than 770 directors from public and private companies across the industries around the world suggested that some are responding more energetically than others.
There is a dramatic difference between how directors allocate their time among boardroom activities and the effectiveness of the Boards. One in four directors assessed their impact as moderate or lower, while others reported as having a high impact across Board functions.
Today, the call to become more forward-looking and achieving Board Excellence is further highlighted. This is further emphasized when the Board and Management are pressured to find the best answers to global business concerns and issues. In Strategy Development, this becomes invaluable. It does not only lead to clearer strategies but also the creation of alignment essential in making bolder moves.
While these are essential, there is a need to raise the quality of engagement on strategy between the Board and Management for each group to achieve smarter options. This is possible only if organizations have high impact, strategic Boards in place.
High impact, strategic Boards have a greater impact as they move beyond the basics and face increasing challenges.
The Challenges that Today’s Board Face
Business is fast-changing and rapidly transforming. The global economy is increasingly pushing businesses, as well as the Board to face a gamut of challenges.
What are the 2 main challenges facing Boards today?
First is Time Commitment. Working at a high level takes discipline – and time. In fact, the greater time commitment is expected on high impact activities. The Board often have 6 to 8 meetings a year. As a result, they are often hard-pressed to get beyond the compliance-related topics to secure the breathing space needed for developing a strategy.
Often, it is the very high impact Directors who invest more time compared to moderate or lower average Directors.
Who are your very high impact Directors? They are those spend a total of 40 days a year working for the Board compared to 19 days of low impact Directors. An extra 8 workdays a year is invested in strategy and an extra 3 workdays a year are spent on Performance Management, M&A, Organizational Health, and Risk Management.
High impact Directors who believe that their activities have greater impact spend significantly more time on these activities compared to low impact Boards.
Second is Strategy Understanding. Why is Strategy Understanding a challenge for the Board? Limited understanding of the organization’s strategy can result in the Board’s limited engagement with the organization. Based on the survey made, only 21% of the Directors have a complete understanding of the current strategy. Often, Board members have a better understanding of the company’s financial position rather than its risks or industry dynamics.
If we look at high impact Directors, they invest more time in dealing with strategic issues. In fact, they invest 8 extra workdays a year on Strategic Planning and discussing strategy compared to low impact Directors. High impact Directors center on Strategy Focus Areas which can, in turn, spur high-quality engagement from the Board on strategy development. The quality of Board engagement on strategy is enhanced, both when the engagement is deep and during the regular course of business.
The Board just needs to focus on 3 areas of discussion for the Board to enhance Strategy Development. One of them is Industry and Competitive Dynamics.
Interested in gaining more understanding of Board Excellence via High Impact, Strategic Boards? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Board Excellence: High Impact, Strategic Boards here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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