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Adapting Your Board to the Digital Age

November 29, 2020



Michael Hartmann, Principal, The Directors College and guest panelists Rob Burgess, Chair of the Compensation Committee, NVIDIA and Rob Siegel, Lecturer in Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business discussed the challenges to digitally transforming an organization and what role the board can play in supporting change at the November 25 session of The McMaster Collaboratorium.

Boards need to be qualified to support innovation. Directors need to come from the digital economy and boards need to refresh. Companies are trying to educate their boards to get up to speed on digital transformation and cybersecurity, but small training sessions will not work to the extent required.

All businesses are digital already. The companies that understand this will survive, the rest won’t. The old guard who have long been courted by boards are not capable of understanding and supporting the new economy. The digital dynamics have taken over. The only way to learn is by living the daily consequences of decision making.

People of different backgrounds and experiences bring more to the table. Look for up and coming executives with ‘digital’ as their middle names who have lived the journey for the last decade. The best candidates are women and non-white executives who think globally.

The metrics being used to measure success are no longer working. Current and modern expertise and diversity are in demand.

The winning strategies seem to be with organizations that are able to combine digital and physical excellence. Blending the best of physical and digital allows organizations to go after new markets.

Leaders need to have a natural curiosity to remain current. What can you do on a daily basis to understand the digital economy inside and outside of your organization. Board members need to refresh on a more frequent basis to stay relevant.

Barriers are being broken down, collaboration tools have advanced and leaders need to adapt quickly and intentionally. Boards need to have fresh eyes – to understand what is next, and wise eyes – to apply domain expertise to that vision.

Target and Home Depot are examples of incumbent companies that have successfully adapted their cultures and incorporated emerging technologies to support their revenue – they have run toward disruption and invested heavily to remain competitive. Disruptor businesses have used the pandemic to figure out how to use digital to create experiences and better meet the needs of their customers.

The development of ecosystems and understanding the flow of interactions with existing ecosystems in the digital space should be core to success innovation and transformation. Things are no longer rigid – success comes from fluidity. Who can you bring along with you?

The role of the board can no longer just be about hiring the CEO, mergers and acquisitions and reviews of profit and loss statements. Boards who evolve and expand will better survive adaptation.

Key Takeaways:
For too long the competencies that boards recruited stayed rigid and now there is a lot of catching up to do and it will take years to get to the level of diversity needed in leadership.
Learn the art of the possible and how to draw and coach new energy to meet the future of the digital age.

Click here to watch the webinar.