The impact of accelerating changes on the role of the board has been on my mind for quite some time. I wrote an article on this topic in early 2016. Many changes today are occurring at an increasing pace in markets and industries, caused by the digital economy, cyber-threats, new business models, empowered consumers among others, and it feels like there is no respite in sight.
As I was preparing for a few strategic planning meetings, I found this outstanding Deloitte publication that enabled me to take my reflections to the next level. It proposes new steps for the board when conducting strategic planning in changing ecosystems. Two of the proposed elements made such sense that I shared them with my contacts and applied them right away: (1) the need to also develop a vision with management of what the markets and the industry will look like in 10 years; (2) and from that vision, identifying the emerging edges of the company that can be developed to position it as a winner in this future reality.
These new steps are challenging because they demand to project thoughts into an uncertain future. However, the technological foundations and market drivers of this future are already in place, be they artificial intelligence, internet of things, robotics, social medias, aging populations, rise of protectionism, etc. Having this discussion with management will ascertain you all share a common long-term vision that is considered in the strategic planning process. Also, the emerging business edges the board is looking for are probably not part of the current core business. As such, these future edges might not be currently discussed at the board and management plays a central role to identify these edges and then evolve them.
This new part of the strategic process is intriguing because it forces the board and management to think outside of current operational priorities and traditional strategic planning and focus on what is the next pivot of the business. This exercise can also be used with employees to involve them in the changes occurring and to use their perspective to capture innovative edges that may not be apparent to management.
This started me thinking about the 10-year outlook for the healthcare industry in which I am involved, what would be different, what would no longer exist, what would be the role of technology, of the patients, the payors, the healthcare staff, how increasing portions of the care will take place outside of hospital brick and mortar buildings. It started my wheels turning and helped me identify possible long-term opportunities.
Are you concerned about exponential changes and do you have other perspectives to share on the role of the board in changing environments?