“One frequently overlooked means of preparing for the future is through a high-performing, strategically focused board of directors (BOD). Most (organizations) don’t utilize a true, functioning BOD beyond the minimum statutory requirements, and those that do have a functioning BOD often lack directors whose competencies and experiences are well-aligned to anticipate and execute on potential future opportunities. In both instances, the business lacks the right people in the right place to see beyond the day to day and craft a winning vision of the future.”
~ Michael Mangum and Ed Rowell, Fails Management Institute
I was conducting online research on developing future-focused boards of directors and I stumbled upon the FMI article How to Create a Future-Ready Board of Directors. Although FMI as a management and investment firm serves engineering and construction companies, they offer wise advice on creating and leveraging boards of directors to navigate uncertainty and position organizations for long-term success.
In my experience as a certified Motorola University instructor for continuous improvement and benchmarking, I know the importance of competitive and comparative benchmarking. Competitive benchmarking is when we learn best practices from peers in our industry. Comparative benchmarking helps us glean insights from those outside of our industry who do things well that would benefit us.
What I found very insightful is this infographic that describes Five Signs Your Board Needs an Overhaul. In working with associations and chamber of commerce leaders and boards across North America, I’ve heard about and experienced boards that exhibit one or more of these signs.
Any combination of these can impede an organization’s ability to navigate future trends and be positioned for success. This can create a comfort around the status quo, a reluctance to change, and prevent real and needed change over time.
Which of these signs are prevalent with your board?
How can you develop a board of directors to lead and position your organization for future success?
Recommendations to Create a Future-Ready Board
You can develop a high performing, functioning, and future-ready board of directors by employing these three strategies:
- Design a Board Composition and Competence Matrix — Consider the skills, experiences, attributes, representation, and types of access you want on the board. Then, assess what current directors ‘bring to the table’ and identify gaps. Recruit new directors that will provide what is needed on your board.
- Engage directors in strategic conversations — Strategic thinking isn’t reserved for strategic planning sessions. Introduce “what if” situations and discussions during board meetings, bring in a futurist to share trends and possible impacts to the community, and engage in scenario planning to identify threats, assumptions, and possible futures for the organization.
- Host Think Tanks and Invite Non-Traditional Engagers — Sometimes directors and staff are too close to day to day operations to truly ‘think outside of the box’. Invite young professionals, college students, cultural creatives, and people that don’t typically engage with you to participate in curated conversations using the World Café approach hosted by your board. Inspire new thinking through new lens!
Engage your board differently, change its composition, and plan to be future-ready!
Cathi Hight helps organizations manage constant change, develop customer-loyalty and “work smarter, not harder”. She is an organizational development consultant and president of Hight Performance Group and the developer of The Member Retention Kit, A New Approach to Tiered Membership and the Work Smarter, Not Harder program. Learn more at www.hightperformance.com.