The Board of Directors in “the new normal”

As the post pandemic era slowly but surely starts to settle, companies are shifting from a crisis situation to preparing themselves for the new normal.
Over the past year, the board of directors’ priority has been to support the management team to navigate the Covid situation as good as possible. Depending on the business, this resulted in a positive or a negative impact, but in both cases, it led to an unusual situation that required empathetic counselling from the board directors and sparring with the management.

Crisis management experience

As in all crises, there is a big part of uncertainty. Having sailed in rough waters in the past is a valuable asset to help manage the current situation. Economic and societal shocks like 9/11, the dot-com bubble in the late 90s or the subprime crisis more recently have forged some strong skills among board directors. Their experience can be of a great help when it comes to business-continuity planning or fast-shifting the current strategy.

Board talent diversification

Exceptional situations require exceptional solutions to be found. This couldn’t be more appropriate for the challenges that companies have been facing. The crisis brought some of them to very creative solutions to face the unexpected. Crisis management talents in all aspects have emerged and have proven their added value. It was about time already to bring diversification to the board, and if any positive consequence of all this, it definitely is the sped-up introduction of these new profiles at board level.

Support and challenge – the right middle ground

Even if the board of directors might be perceived as quite financially focused, it is much more than that. Its first goal is to ensure both shareholders’ and stakeholders’ interests are defended. Of course, the financial stability of the company plays a big role as the operational management of the risks does. When in crisis, these are the fields where decisions have to be taken quickly. But next to these operational aspects, the board of directors also needs to keep the long-term vision of the company in mind. The vision remains of capital importance, even if the strategy must be adapted.

The crisis could become a perfect moment to make a shift, launch a plan to be ready for the rebound after the pandemic.

Board Governance and the NWOW

The pandemic didn’t only bring negative things. We already see companies reinventing themselves, taking the lessons learned from the crisis to shift their purpose and their value proposition. The crisis has somehow revealed their weaknesses, urged and imposed temporary new ways of working (NWOW), that are about to become permanent.

Remote working is one of the best examples that is applicable to a large number of companies. The same goes for board governance matters. Modern tools enable people to get their work done remotely, sometimes in an even better way than in the office.

Tons of SaaS tools have improved or have been created to respond to the needs of this NWOW. If they can’t replace all the benefits of the way a company used to work successfully before the pandemic, it can at least simplify the new way of working and it might even improve and reveal some crucial advantages that helps manage the various aspects of the company.

Collaboration has embraced a whole new dimension with the distance, and information consumption through all channels and sources has increased dramatically.

As time is a scarce asset for most directors of the board, it becomes even more important to adapt the way the board of directors focus its attention on what matters.

What’s more, leading by example has proven to be very effective when it comes to change management in general. As a result, boards who adopt the right weapons fitting their needs are more likely to be the example the company in transformation and are better prepared to win the battle in the post pandemic world.

Why Start-Ups should get a strong board governance quickly ?
Author : Xavier Pansaers ; Co-Founder