Board Chairs: Are You Playing Catch-Up in a Hyper-Connected World?

I’ve been on a roll since my last newsletter: NACD Southern California Governance Week, Chicago, New York, and Tucson.  I’m sure you can relate.  I know I’ve been traveling a lot when my hotel bills exceed my monthly mortgage payment, yikes!

I had a wonderful time, and came away with clarity about the speed and connectedness that is bringing about a need for a refreshed mindset to lead the 2012 boardroom.

At Governance Week Dinner in Los Angeles
From Left: Ed Merino, Chief Justice Steele, Me & Christian M. Mitchell

With Barbara Franklin,
NACD National President
At D100 Celebration, NYC

Listening to brilliant investor and boardmember,
Jim Breyer of Accel Partners at Techonomy

I’ll let you recap 2011 as you enjoy the upcoming holidays and get ready for a new year.  We’ve seen an Arab Spring and a Fall, where we’ve seen tents outside our office windows.  It reminds me of a favorite song from the 1960’s “There’s something happenin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.”   

I’m speaking with clients to encourage them to lead the boardroom by listening and looking beyond their trusted networks and influencers.

This will be an important time to prepare for: A Winter of ActivismGive a call or email to prepare your boardroom to govern for speed in a hyper-connected world.  The time to take action is now!

After spending time with technology thought leaders, the distance is increasing from the empowered individual who is able to organize in a leaderless manner and the boardroom’s oversight of their institution. This has reached a tipping point and is changing everything.

So–what are the lessons for companies and boards? When someone raises questions related to your practices, take a careful look and move swiftly to address concerns.

The messengers are right under your noses, if you choose to see and hear them. In the end, it’s not who the messenger is that matters, it’s what they are saying that deserves your attention.

A recent survey in Corporate Board Member magazine asked about board influence, with answers reflecting a very traditional view of networks. I challenge board chairs to think about asymmetrical information risk as a way to shape and expand information sources.

Boards that stick to this universe of influencers will be losing ground in a networked, hyper-connected world.

Which of the following groups do you believe influences your board the most?

Institutional investors 41%

Government regulators 29%

ISS and other proxy advisers 12%

Analysts 8%

Activist hedge funds 4%

Credit rating agencies 4%

Media 1%

Plaintiffs’ bar <1%

Politicians <1%

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