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The rise of the digitally-savvy board

Bonnie Gardiner | May 20, 2015
Our boards are not ready for digital disruption, so how can we bring about positive change?

"Innovative thinking and digital transformation has to be driven from the board, not just from the CEOs. They need to push some new ideas, risk taking and different thinking as to how they can improve the business, particularly to be customer facing, but the transformation must deliver all the way through the back end business processes.

Lack of governance
Gavin Heaton, digital consultant and founder of theDisruptor's Handbook, cautions that not every 'digital expert' is as genuine as Scott Davie, and introducing some universal governance in the area would ensure real progress is made.

"When people come along and talk about digital it's easy to be impressed by that. People think, wow, these guys know what they're talking about and they're saying all the words I keep reading," says Heaton.

"But there's a lack of governance in that process, where boards try to get an understanding about the digital landscape, who knows what they're doing, and how they go about it.

"We can end up with bad advice for solving digital problems, and seeing budgets being wasted, then needing other teams to come in to mop up the mess, so that's a real waste of resources."

Eyes on managers
The onus is not just on boards of course, as a company's culture and productivity cannot solely rely on one group of people meeting intermittently. The development of product, service and general business processes is handled at all levels of the business.

"Boards can challenge the business and help it grow. But the true innovation comes from the managerial level -- as it should," says Fergus Watts, digital consultant and CEO of Bastion Group.

"The real innovation happens when the board empowers their managerial team to take the lead and drive change.

"It's then the job of the managers within the business that really should be looking at how they get the best result from their people and how they set up the organisation for long term success."

 

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