The ongoing speed and uncertainty impacts all companies, but is also impacting the way boards are performing their ongoing board work, we learnt at the recent Digoshen Board Live Exchange Webinar “Dynamic and Agile Board work during the pandemic”. We found some interesting development happening. Some find the virtual meetings more inclusive, increasing the chances for all to be heard. Some find the ways to debate in meetings are tough, but new ways of dividing responsibilities is one way of dealing with it.
We run these exchanges with the objective to share examples and learnings connected to the unprecedented challenges practicing board members and business executives are facing globally. And as they highly are appreciated, there are more of them in pipeline.
The latest discussion on “Dynamic and Agile Board work during the pandemic” was facilitated by Digoshen Impact Partners Pia Gideon, Peter Crow, Anne Mieke Eggenkamp, Leif Fågelstedt, Fernanda Torre and Liselotte Engstam.
We had a framing of our discussion first set by experienced Chair, NED Pia Gideon.
We focused the discussions on the meetings interaction and approach, as well as the board structure and format. And found the topic of very high interest to debate amongst the participants.
On meeting interactions and approach
The discussions included
- Multiple roles (supporting with operational work)
- The balance between temporary (in crisis) – and future (beyond crisis) needs/demands
- What are (already) learnings in different behaviors & habits?
- Where will this lead to regarding adaptivity of current experiences:
1. A new approach to leadership
2. Standardizing operations & pursuing innovation/breaking barriers?
From the polls we learn that many boards are either still in crisis or somewhat back to ordinary frequency. And also that the interactions w the broader management team have increased. And that the virtual board meetings works surprisingly well.
Some more findings during the live exchange were
- We’re developing a new formula for agile working together (board and executives/Ceos)
- We are not looking for a fixed model, but investigate, research, observe, discuss with others what is needed
- Supporting management in a new way: focus on build trust & broaden the perspective
- We all realize this situation is: serious, intense, take extra time and energy
- We discover this crisis requires new habits & behaviors (agile, resilience, adaptability, speed, iterations…)
- Trying to find the balance between the future (what will the future look like – future thinking) and focus on current market/sales/customer/clients issues.
- New roles for board members: doing more (experience, knowledge, hands-on guidance), without stepping on the toes of the executives
- Reviewing strategy, looking into the culture and way of working is important now
- What fits with the culture of the organization? What new board model suits the DNA of the company?
- Preparation is key, even more in virtual meetings
- And all that extra energy can also be very rewarding: in terms of new investments, more democratic decision making, visibility of different capacities and strengths of the different executives and non-executives
On structure and format
From the polls we learn that many boards are supporting management with quite operational support, but haven’t really revisited the board structure that will be needed .
Some findings during the live exchange were
- Some organization have a more formal set & some more informal
- The crisis precipitated some positive developments & specific activities including more support between the board members.
- Everyone is trying to find their “virtual personality”.
- The virtual work is even more dependent on the chair and how he/she runs the meetings.
- The Board sometimes has a higher sense of urgency.
- Digital meetings is more democratic, because everyone gets equal air time, which is helping some boards in a new way
- Some organization’s has extended the responsibilities in sub-committees as finance and audit committee or created temporary committees
- The board want to help but there is a fine line to not step on management toes.
- Some boards assign different roles to different board members. It can be to support different time horizon explorations, it can be to be supporting preparations and be the discussion leaders for one of the agenda topics, and it can be to mentor on of the executives during some time.
As a summary we concluded that we are just tapping into new ways for working for Boards, and new ways of coaching for Chairs. And that this discussion must go on as the new formula of agile board work is emerging.
Find some more inspiration for discussions on agile board and executive leadership
- INSEAD – Agile boards of directors a fad or the
- HBR – The agile C-Suite
- NACD – Creating an agile boardroom
- Russel Reynolds – Board Leadership and Performance in Crisis
Upcoming Live Exchange Webinars and Topics
We are now opening up some of our Live Exchanges also for Business Executives. As our next live exchange webinar “Foresight. Visions of future, after pandemic.“ on May 25 8-9 AM CET, (already held)
If the upcoming time doesn’t fit, you can >> check out and pencil in the planned future dates. And there you can also find links and learn from experience at earlier Digoshen Live Exchange webinars.
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