Ask any group of CIOs whether or not they would like to sit on a corporate board when they retire and the majority of them will answer in the affirmative. It has long been the ultimate career goal for CIOs in many sectors. Curiously though, few achieve it. This is a puzzle we have wrestled and failed to solve for decades.
The composition and function of the Board
The Board of Director of any public company and many others is comprised of a mix of senior executive officers working for the company (including CEO, CFO and legal) and several non-executive Directors, selected for their personal experience and merit. The key purpose of this combined executive and non-executive Board is to ensure the company’s prosperity by collectively directing the company’s affairs, while meeting the appropriate interests of its shareholders and relevant stakeholders. Under the stewardship of their non-executive Chair, the board of directors is the principal agent of risk taking and the principal maker of commercial and other judgements.
The non-executive directors (NED)s
Where the executive directors have an intimate knowledge of the company, the NEDs are expected to have a wider perspective of the world at large, including such ubiquitous and massive business challenges as digital transformation. Legally, there is no distinction between an executive director and a NED, and yet there is a sense in which the NED’s role is that of challenging and balancing the executive directors to ensure the board functions effectively.
NEDs play an important part in assisting the Chair to fulfil his/her role by rigorously assessing the effectiveness of the board’s processes and activities. How well equipped they are to do this depends largely on the range, extent and success of their earlier non-executive careers.
CIOs as non-executive directors
For reasons we shall explore, traditional Public company boards have thought it was acceptable to run light on corporate technology skills and experience. There are many examples of late or failed major programmes due to poor governance from the board. It is a scandal that has been allowed to persist too long. Now, in this era of business transformation the knowledge gap on the board has widened to a chasm see the need for digital governance.
The Digital NED Network is our answer to bridging this growing chasm.