Board Strategy: Asking the right questions and facilitating meaningful discussions

Much has been spoken of the disruption that the pandemic has caused to businesses in terms of falling demand, disintermediation, disrupted supply chains and changing working practices. Yet little has been spoken about the impact on the board room and particularly around effectiveness.

As we moved into the second year of the pandemic, it is highly likely that most, if not all, boards have migrated from ‘in person’ board meetings to virtual or hybrid meetings with members dialing in or attending via Zoom or its equivalent.

While it is assumed that the form of such meetings have ‘ticked all the boxes of governance’ it would be pertinent to question the overall effectiveness given the format of the meetings. One area that may have suffered is strategy formulation especially when
for many boards it has become standard practice for at least one board meeting per year to be undertaken ‘off-site’ to enable directors to be immersed in big picture discussions away from the normal confined board room setting.

Now, more than ever, boards need to be engaged with management around key strategic
issues and how are the key big issues being addressed. Examples would include:

  • How is the business dealing with disruption?
  • Is the increased business volatility we have seen with Covid a temporary or permanent phenomenon?
  • Are there new opportunities to be explored by moving along the value chain or through new adjacencies?
  • How is the business getting closer to its customers using data and the elimination of intermediaries?
  • Are there new ways of smart working that should be more universally adopted?

While vaccines are of course the hoped for ‘game changer’ in terms of enabling our lives to become more physical again, it is still unrealistic to think normality, in terms of board room operations, will return soon and that even another full annual cycle of meetings
may be subjected to disruption. At Trinity Bridge we strongly advocate that board agendas still need to include a professionally facilitated strategy session that involves third parties to provide the perspectives and sector insights to stimulate discussion and thought amongst the executive and non-executive members of the board and their management teams.

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