Boardroom Turbulence – Strap Yourself In for 2013


Hello from Fay

I’ve been on the go, which makes sleeping in my own bed that much sweeter this holiday season.  As I think about 2012, my take-away for directors is “more than ever, your CEOs need your wisdom and provocative questions to support them in adjusting their thinking and strategy to a landscape of turbulence.”


Changes brought on in the past year from the digital revolution alone are accelerating business risks and opportunities.  Mary Meeker speaks to this in her 2012 KPCB Internet Trends Year-End Update.    She calls it “The Re-Imagination- of Nearly Everything.”


Mary MeekerThe “weapon of choice” in the digital revolution is proving to be the smart phone.  It provides stakeholders a tool to connect with like-minded individuals anywhere, any time.

This year, when speaking on social technology, I’ve been asking directors to think about issues from the constituent’s viewpoint (investors, customers and employees) for a start.  Broadening to stakeholders is the next level request.

I recently heard Mark T. Bertolini, Chairman, CEO & President, Aetna Inc., speak at the NACD Board Leadership Conference.  Yes, he has a Twitter account @mtbert, but that’s not the only reason I like him.  He spoke to the value of having the CEO be an active participant in the social conversation.  Here is a link to his session, which is a blueprint for the #SocialCEO.

We certainly expect our C-suite to align their messaging to demographics, but it is far more complex than it appears.  People are expressing their underlying attitudes and values in a variety of ways that are being expressed in the public domain on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc.

An expectation for CEOs is to listen, assess and, if appropriate, adapt to the feedback.  It reminds me of the first two steps in a risk management process: identify and assess.  I encourage directors to stop and consider ways they can help their CEO speak to values that define, strengthen and grow the company.

As a board leader, your agenda needs to allow time for the on-going, dynamic issues that are emerging that may not have been assigned to a committee:

  • Company culture and talent
  • Company brand and reputation
  • Opening communication channels from the outside/in
  • Sustainability and safety
  • Supply Chain
  • IT and social technology including cyber-risk
  • Diversity & Inclusion

I heard James Robinson, III speak in New York City at the NACD D100.  His message to business was simple: “To grow and sustain a successful enterprise, recognize that we are all in it together, act accordingly.” [Read more…]