New Year’s resolutions for ambitious boards

Happy New Year! A new year brings with it a sense of renewal: you are faced with a blank sheet and fresh opportunities. In other words, a golden chance to evaluate your existing routines and establish some new ones. Here are five suggested New Year’s resolutions for executives and board members who want to streamline their board work in 2017:

1: “I will always be well-prepared for board meetings”
Perhaps you already are. But a recent PWC survey (2016) indicates that many companies have room for improvement: 35% of the respondents stated that some members of the board should be replaced. And the most common reason was that the board members in question were poorly prepared for the meetings (25%).

Did you know that a board portal helps to increase the quality of information available to the board (BCG 2016) and may make it easier to be well-prepared? Read more about the digital habits of resiliant boards here


2: “We’re going to switch to paperless board meetings”
Your company might have been talking about the “green shift” for some time now. Maybe it’s even well under way? Now’s the time for the board to join in. One step in the right direction is to make the change to paperless board meetings. Just picture the stack of papers resulting from a board meeting, multiplied by the number of board members, and then by the number of meetings in a year. In addition, some companies are still sending out their papers by courier. There’s no doubt that switching to a paperless board is a sound eco-friendly initiative.

3: “I’m going to take IT security seriously”
There is increasing recognition that IT security is a matter for the board to consider. A survey from Spencer Stuart (2016) reveals that cybersecurity is now among the top 3 items that the board must prioritise. At the same time, there is still a tendency for the board only to hear about the topic after there has been a serious incident.

In 2017, IT security issues must be elevated from the IT department, and onto the board’s agenda. The board must participate in formulating preventive strategies, and not just make emergency decisions in the wake of security breaches. As a board member, why not make an extra effort to understand the threats and appropriate responses? Take the initiative to get the topic onto the agenda. Invite the head of IT or your company’s security manager to a board meeting to make a presentation about the current situation and threat picture, forecasts and predictions, as well as strategies and tactics.

4: “I’m going to get up to speed on digitisation”
Another topic that deserves a key place on the board’s agenda is digitisation. Digitisation is an all-pervasive trend in the modern world, to the point that everything that can be digitised will be. The board cannot stand aside from this digitisation process: digitisation must be on the board’s agenda, the board must strengthen its digital expertise and equipment, and play a leading role in the enterprise’s digitisation processes.

5: “This year we’re going to perform a board evaluation”
If the board isn’t already performing board evaluations, perhaps now is the time to establish routines for this? The evaluations should not be too close together, or they risk gradually losing their importance and priority. But, in order to measure the impact of measures and trends over time, nor should they be too spaced out. Once a year is ideal, perhaps at the first meeting of the year?

Good luck!