Increasing Boardroom Creativity

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said that

Change is the only constant in life

The world is, and always has been, changing. Throughout the centuries, companies and people have adapted to those changes by learning new ways of doing things. To move forward, you need to be able to both exploit what is and explore what is not yet.

In March, Digoshen Impact Partners and Caracta Partners, Fennemiek Gommer and Anne Mieke Eggenkamp,  shared their views in a webinar and we facilitated a discussion amongst board peers.


In their newly released book Boardroom CreativityFennemiek Gommer and Anne Mieke Eggenkamp describe how the balance between exploit and explore in business is shifting. They argue that Boards need to learn how to apply creativity because of today’s unprecedented speed of change and complexity.

Framing Boardroom Creativity

To kick-start the discussion, Fennemiek started by showing the below business curve model. Growing your existing business (exploit) requires a different approach from designing your next one (explore). The average business lifespan is shortening, and many companies are dealing with several curves at the same time.


Anne Mieke then went on to explain how an exploit approach differs from an explore approach, using the illustration below. What should be the balance in your company?

To be future-ready, boards should:

  • Create Regularly take time to design the future of your business, asking
    the ‘what if’ questions: what if our company didn’t exist anymore? What if our market would be disrupted?
  • Lead Define what the ideal board for your company looks like. How much time on your agenda should you spend on ‘exploit’, and how much time exploring the future? What mix of people do you need?
  • Care Build the foundation by identifying a purpose that enables innovation and motivates your people.
  • Learn Embrace your creative intelligence and develop your creative metaskills. Creativity is a muscle that can be trained, only 33% is in your DNA.


Participants Perspectives

The poll asked four questions based on this framework. The learnings were that although companies take the time to develop future directions each year, the way they do this could be more innovative and challenge the status quo.

When asked whether they felt their board reflected the right exploit/explore balance, about half answered ‘yes, mostly so’ while the other half felt they focus too much on their current business.

Also, people felt that their purpose could be better at enabling innovation, either because their current purpose wasn’t strong enough or because it wasn’t used for innovation (yet).

Lastly, from the five creative metaskills, they indicated that the skill their leadership team needed to improve the most was “dreaming” (envisioning and ideation).


In the break-out rooms, the teams discussed how you can fence time and process to explore future growth at board meetings. It led to lively discussions also in the joint feedback session. Most of the participants had an ‘explore’ approach, and their challenge was to create awareness of the differences between exploit/explore – the presented frameworks helped with that.

Someone else shared how she had spent several meetings on building awareness, by introducing articles and questions, before organizing a vision session. It was a great reminder that business and board renewal should be organized as a change process.


In the fall, Digoshen will organize a workshop around the framework of Boardroom Creativity, deep diving into all four quadrants and providing board interventions for each.



Learn More

About the book Boardroom Creativity, find it at Amazon

About Fennemieke Gommer and Anne Mieke Eggenkamp

About Caracta


Learn more from the referenced paper Innovation and Corporate Renewal also disrupt boards By Digoshen Founder Engstam, INSEAD Professor Ludo Van Der Heyden and KTH Professon Mats Magnusson


Join Digoshen Board Community

Join Digoshen Exploring Leaders Board Community (Board Mandate required, joining the lounge is free of charge)



Upcoming Events

Apr 1-24 Board Sustainability Online Program (in collaboration with Boards Impact Forum, BIF)

April 18 8-9 CET Leading from the Chair – Modern Board Practices,withINSEAD Prof Stanislav Shekshnia

April 28 Boards Must Reinvent themselves (in person CPH), with Scandinavian Executive Institute

May 4 8-9.30 Board Practices for Long Term Impact, Webinar Exchange in collaboration with KTH and BIF

May 16 8-9 CET Experiences from Revisiting and Guiding Sustainability Plans, Birger Steen, Asthildur Otharsdottir (BIF)

May 25-27 Behavioural Perspectives in Corporate Governance, with INSEAD, by invitation directed to experienced Board Members in medium to large companies. (INSEAD)

June End ESG Pulse Check in collaboration with INSEAD, BCG and Heidrick and Struggles (BIF)


Events in fall

Date to be confirmed – Workshop on Boardroom Creativity, deep diving into all four quadrants and providing board interventions.

Aug-Nov – INSEAD IN-Board Nordic Academy 2023. In collaboration with INSEAD, McKinsey et al. Digoshen hosts Module 3 on Strategy and Sustainability in collaboration with McKinsey in Stockholm, October 20- 21.  Read more here



This blog post was originally shared at the blog of Digoshen,  and the blog of the Digoshen founder

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