The Urgent Need for Digital Governance
Corporate Boards have traditionally undervalued the need for board level technology experience and competence in providing effective corporate governance. This weakness has become acute in this digital era.
Today’s Boards are aware of the significance of digital technologies; they understand their importance and are involved in decisions on capital allocation and talent acquisition. Yet, there is still a marked lack of understanding of where and how digital could significantly open new business opportunities and when and how digital will inevitably disrupt current business models.
Boards are happy to rely on external advisors to help with digital transformation, partly because they see the internal IT organisation focused on rectifying operational inefficiencies. Most digital transformation projects still focus on adapting and upgrading the technological infrastructure rather than laying the foundations for the company to transform business models for its digital future.
Digital’s importance in business is much more than ad-hoc transformation projects. Every business will become digital and sooner or later, every business will have to compete with born-digital competition. Becoming digital requires much more than appointing a CDO or engaging in digital partnering. It involves understanding how digital impacts products, processes, and services; and it deals not only with resource reallocations but the nature of work itself, the organizing logic and the business models of how companies will achieve profitability and growth as industries and economies transform away from their industrial history. More than ever, senior leaders—at board level—must become more proficient and conversant with the business implications of digital technologies. The recent excitement and uncertainty with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) simply adds to the challenges and opportunities facing every major company.
The CIO as Non-executive Director
The obvious place for Boards to source their missing experience is from their internal ranks of technology leaders. But when they look at their internal tech leaders, they mostly see technical experts— capable of running technical operations, with expertise to assess make-buy-partner decisions, capable of flawlessly migrating operations to the cloud, who understand security at the tactical level. But they rarely find within their internal organisation, executives that combine technical expertise with business acumen, who can articulate the tradeoffs necessary in continuing to fine-tune to defend the current business models with the need to design new ways of competing in the future.
Boards rarely find business executives with digital expertise nor digital experts with business understanding. That chasm is becoming more serious now.
This realization is not new. Companies have, over the years, designed and delivered programmes titled digital transformation, digital strategies, digital leadership and the like. These programmes raise awareness of key contemporary topics, but are more passive with no direct actionable next steps for their participants or for their companies. This is why we are pioneering the Digital NED Network.
The Need for a “Peer Learning Network”
Our intent is to tackle the learning gap by creating a peer learning network, with the goal of building a sizeable and sustained pool of talent capable of stepping up to Corporate Boards to engage and challenge at the strategic level, to bring vision and clarity to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
We mean to educate, guide and mentor executives, both business and IT, to develop the competencies and the confidence to engage at Corporate Board level.
We mean to educate, guide and mentor executives, both business and IT, to develop the competencies and the confidence to engage at Corporate Board levelOur intention is to complement the experience that today’s generation of executives already possess from their jobs, with external perspectives, academic and practical experience, to step up to the challenge facing today’s Corporate Boards.
Our invitation is directed to corporate IT leaders enthusiastic to embark on their journey to develop and refine the required competencies and confidence to explore and attain the role of Non-Executive Directors in the digital era
Our invitation is directed to corporate IT leaders enthusiastic to embark on their journey to develop and refine the required competencies and confidence to explore and attain the role of Non-Executive Directors in the digital era.
We recognize that they will be at different stages with different aspirations. For the pilot programme, we have defined two categories of executive, at two different stages in their careers, who would benefit from joining the network:
(1) Senior middle managers who have achieved leadership in their IT function and have begun thinking about extending their careers into non-executive roles outside of their current employer, within a 3–5 years horizon.
(2) Senior executives who have committed to achieving non-executive corporate board roles and have already begun working on the skills and competencies they will require. They may already have achieved significant non-FTSE NED roles within the last year or two.
Our Pilot Digital NED Network in 2023
We invite your participation in one of two cohorts, depending on your level of interest and readiness. .
Senior Middle Managers Cohort
- To gather a focused cohort of UK managers (limited to 25) who are interested in understanding the strategic role of digital in business operations.
- To engage in focused discussions through three webinars and one live (F2F) Masterclass session, featuring our American professors, to understand current digital business issues facing the Boards of major companies.
- To enable structured interactions amongst the cohort on key issues to allow for peer-to-peer networking and learnings.
- Each quarter, we will identify a topic for discussions, provide readings and reflection questions.
- Participants will be encouraged to find learning peers to discuss the ideas, relevance, and applicability in different situations before the webinar to maximize learning.
- The webinar will be for 60 minutes.
- In July, there will be a live (F2F) Masterclass in London. It will be for a half-day followed by dinner. More details to follow. Tentative date: July 3, 2023 14:00 onwards
£2,000 per annum. We expect the participants to commit for one year upfront. Renewal is encouraged as the topics would be refreshed.
Senior Executive Cohort
- To gather a focused cohort of senior UK executives (limited to 20) who are deeply immersed in the strategic role of digital in business operations at the highest level in their organizations; some may have prior experience as members of advisory or technical boards in commercial or charity organizations.
- To engage in focused discussions through live (F2F) sessions supported by webinars to understand current digital business issues facing the Boards of major global companies.
- To enable structured interactions amongst the cohort with senior IT Directors and CEOs as mentors to understand the intricate challenges of being on Boards.
- We will formally launch in July with a one-day F2F meeting in London (Tentative date: July 4, 2023).
- We will provide background documents with details on how the cohort will learn, interact and evolve before the session (by June 1, 2023).
- Each participant will work in a team of three to develop in-depth points of view on how they would approach a stylized issue facing the Board.
- We will have webinars during August—October 2023 to help guide the teams to delve deeper and develop strong points of view on how they would contribute to the discussions at the Board level.
- The teams will get to interact with senior IT leaders as mentors during this period.
- We will meet F2F in October to discuss the insights and lessons from the teams in front of a panel of senior IT leaders/CEOs.
- Possible mentoring during the six months by Brinley and team.
£5,000 per cycle (6 months). Renewal encouraged as the topics would be refreshed
See Core Team: The Digital NED Network in 2023