Why I have never been more excited about the future of board governance
It is not the pace of change that is exciting me, it is the change in mindsets within the governance world. I have been in and around FTSE 350 boardrooms for a long time. Over the last 10 years, never has the pace of change or the level of expectations placed on boards been so stark. But never have so many new ideas been gaining traction in the boardroom either.
A few years back, I led a discussion with the governance team of a FTSE 100 company about breaking away from a pure delivery model to something that is much more strategic and value-adding. This team wanted to become more relevant to their company, to have more impact and to gain more recognition. The opportunity I saw for them was to establish themselves the organisation’s go-to experts in decision-making, providing internal consulting services on top of their normal deliverables. No-one else was doing it – actually an internal tech function was attempting to claim the ground while lacking the foundational competence - and the company desperately needed someone to grasp this emerging field. Sadly, despite wanting to be more relevant, stepping out unnerved the governance team, so they stuck with what they felt comfortable with. It was a lost opportunity, both for the team but especially for their company.
If you lead a governance team and want to make a bigger impact, do speak with us.
But boardroom trailblazers have been emerging over many years. I see Sabine Dembkowski at Better Boards Ltd. making a fantastic difference on boardroom dynamics. She is rightly gaining recognition for her work on psychological safety. I’m excited about what Zoe Bucknell is doing at Kuberno, with her drive to disrupt through technology. Marilieke Engbers' research into the ‘unsaid’ within the boardroom offers a compelling platform for ‘saying the unsayable’ – we will all recognise the potential value this has for boardroom performance. Marilieke’s impact in The Netherlands has been extraordinary. Even Deloitte and PwC have begun to establish disruptive teams.
It is all starting with ideas that work and make a difference. We at demyst | for innovative and agile boards resonate greatly with our fellow boardroom trailblazers and what we are all doing in our respective ways. Our groundbreaking approaches to innovation, board performance and dynamics, and cognitive diversity have been gaining considerable traction since we launched demyst in 2016. Our proven interdisciplinary board development solution in particular leads with an entirely new approach to the evaluation of board performance. It delivers unmatched depth in analysis and insights, accelerating board development to new levels and addressing stubbornly persistent boardroom challenges.
The difference I now see in the governance world is that board chairs, directors and governance professionals are more ready than ever to embrace new ideas and ways of working. This change in mindset has been partly driven by the covid pandemic, but also by a recognition that boards need to radically accelerate their evolution to keep pace with change. Consequently, they are listening and are willing to have their assumptions about what boards do and how they do it challenged.
Since 2016, we have been advocating the need for a new operating model in the boardroom and showing boards how this can be landed impactfully. The groundbreaking ideas generated by notable providers and the new openness in boards are energising and give confidence that boards will indeed have the tools – and the mindsets – to help them improve solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems, one step at a time.
What can boards and governance professionals be doing?
Don't be fearful of innovation – now is the time to have courage.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable – be prepared to step out and make a bigger personal and collective impact.
Recognise that mindset matters – find a trusted partner to challenge you.
Board evaluations (or reviews) are the perfect place to start - so do talk to us about your next one!
We will soon be announcing three strategic webinars with global experts on future of the European energy market, the future of AI on boardroom decision-making and catalysing cognitive diversity in your boardroom. Please follow demyst | for innovative and agile boards if you want to hear more.