We aim to make a difference and a sustainable impact.

Insights from Boards Leadership in Uncertain Times.

As we are all practicing board members and facing new challenges across the globe, we at Digoshen want to focus on opportunities. We know that speed, uncertainty and business complexity has increased, as we hosted another Digoshen Board Forum Exchange Webinar “Boards Leadership in Uncertain Times”, with the objective to share examples and learnings connected to the unprecedented challenges practicing members are facing globally.

As a foundation for this Digoshen Exchange Webinar we appreciated to be joined by highly experienced, practicing NED board member, professor emeritus in corporate governance at INSEAD, Ludo VAN DER HEYDEN and Board and Crises Expert Peter Nathanial .

They were sharing findings from their experience and research, based on their working paper a “Blueprint for Crisis Management in light of Covid-19“, including their framework Engage, Explore, Explain, Execute and Evaluate. We discussed with the participants our joint experiences in the area, facilitated by Digoshen Impact Partners Pia Gideon Dr Peter Crow Fennemiek Gommer Leif Fågelstedt Anne Mieke Eggenkamp and Liselotte Hägertz Engstam.

Participants Insightful Experiences

We kicked off the webinar by tapping the insightful experience from the participating board members and chairs through a series of polls.

The first questions pointed to topics in the Engage and Explore areas, where we learnt that most boards had to go through an iterative process with management to get to a joint understanding of possible scenarios. We also learnt that more than half of the boards were really experienced from previous crises, but only 20% had crises experienced CEOs, which could really use the boards experience now.



The following questions covered topics in the Explain, Execute and Evaluate areas. There we picked up that for most companies the adjusted strategy was still in development, and that communication to the board and CEO where fine, but that we really need to put some light on information to customers and to the top management team. We also learnt that we have a fair tap on the motivation of the CEO and our employees, but we are unsure about the top management, our customers and our investors, which quickly need to be explored.


Crises Management through five E’s

We were then guided through the blueprint for crises management, with both motivation and examples, by Professor Ludo Van Der Heyden and Adjunct Professor Peter Nathanial.

What was clear from the presentation and the experience sharing session was that the how in crisis management is as important as the what. Findings included and covered:

  • frame the crisis correctly and look for patterns
  • apply segmentation and triage
  • no such thing as having all the information exist
  • time is your enemy
  • maintain a bias to act
  • build trust and credibility based on objective measurement.

Van Der Heyden and Nathanial shared the reason they created the blueprint was that we do not learn (enough) from the past, and from the present. In times of crisis we should focus ongoing on getting people engaged and motivated to learn. The framework shows the crucial five phases and the iterative process of discipline and learning by doing.



  • ENGAGE : Important is to start with the correct framing of the crisis by asking the right questions and (in the process) making the right decisions. Key questions (to CEO’s, executive board): how can we help?
  • EXPLORE: A natural and common reaction in crisis – based on panic – is the behavior of asking and searching for more information.
  • EXPLAIN: Work with scenarios, communicate the bigger strategy
  • EXECUTE: Show that scenarios works, show results, create confidence, build trust. Find a new balance between short term and long term
  • EVALUATE: keep on moving fast. Develop quick learning loops and iterations within the 5E model. Adapting to present situation. It’s also matter of ‘mental adjustment’. And making the right decisions + develop strong adaptive, innovative leadership. Pro-active leadership, and remain yourself.


Other insights that was pointed out by presenters and participants

Our discussions pointed to some more important learnings;

  • Mindset of learning and adapting is key
  • Speed is of the essence. Inaction is harmful
  • New roles, skills & competences on ‘crisis management’ might become more valuable in the near future.
  • A reframe or reset of the risk committee might be wise. Do we have the right experienced board of professionals?
  • The need (CEO’s/executives) for a friendly, independent sparring partner
  • Governance aspect in crisis: who is doing what? Finding the balance in ‘defend and attack’
  • Liquidity seems to be provided by governments, but the real issue soon is going to be solvability..

Conclusion and learn more

To conclude, crisis is not a time for learning or reinventing things that should already be known, the question at hand will always be connected to:

  • not tapping in from learning from the past or the present can be very costly
  • framing and reframing the crisis is key
  • the way one gets into a crisis is typically not the way one gets out

We are deeply grateful to our presenters and all our engaged participants, sharing invaluable lessons and giving each other emotional support during a time of high uncertainty.

At INSEAD Knowledge you find more about the >> Blueprint for Crises Management.


Upcoming Exchange Webinars and Vote on Topics

The insights we learnt at this webinar also highlights the need for our next planned Digoshen Board Forum Exchange Webinar, on the topic “Boards for Short and Long Term”, and will be held on April 27 at 12-13 CET welcome to >> sign up here.

If you like to vote on upcoming topics we should discuss at upcoming Digoshen Board Forum Exchange Webinars, you can vote by distributing 100 points to the >> topics you are most interested in here.  

It the upcoming time doesn’t fit, you can >> check out and pencil in the planned future dates.

You can also learn from earlier experience at the >> Exchange Webinar on Virtual Board Work & Virtual AGMs

You are welcome to connect with the >> Digoshen Impact Team.