What Boards Will [hopefully] Look Like in 10 Years

Boards are not the first place that comes to mind when you think about how they have changed in the past and will change in the future. When most people think of boards they usually think of old, stuffy men.

From experience, I have unfortunately not seen much change in the boardroom over my past three years as a company director.

Boards will need to change in the future, and I am predicting that they will change in the following four ways over the next ten years.

The boards of the future will be:

More Diverse (and not just of the gendered type)

Much has been done to change the perception and encourage women to get on boards. This positive and proactive push has seen steady increases in female representation at the director level.

Over the next 10 years, the spotlight on boardroom diversity will broaden. We will start to see an emphasis being placed on ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic background, disability, age, experience, professional background, and skills of directors.

Boards will start to truly reflect their employee and customer bases, and will use the strategic advantages that diverse perspectives bring to the organisation.

Technologically Savvy

Not only will the use of technology within the organisation increase (yes, there is still room to move within some businesses); the use of technology within the boardroom will also increase.

Consider software and programs for managing board and committee meeting papers (such as Our Cat Herder), and using technology to include directors who are unable to attend the meeting face-to-face (such as Skype). The use of these tools will increase as directors get more comfortable with technology, particularly with the next generation and younger people starting to enter the boardroom.

Geographically Unbounded

Technology will also allow boards to recruit new members beyond the geographic location in which they are based. This will open up the opportunity for boards to draw from a much larger candidate pool and be more strategic about the new directors they recruit.

Looking for a director with a very unique, niche skill, or is the organisation looking to export into China? Finding and recruiting these directors will be easier when you have the whole world to chose from.

More Sophisticated

The above three trends will make way for a situation where board seats become much more competitive – as a board hopeful, you will now have to stand out on a broader, global scale in order to gain a board seat. Additionally, with accessible education that Get on Board is introducing for new and aspiring company directors, the future board will be one that is much more sophisticated.

Greater education of board members and company directors will lead to better-informed directors, which will lead to higher performing boards. More sophisticated directors will only bring on to the board new directors who meet the new minimum standards. And so on and so on, as the system reinforces itself.

Furthermore, the push for greater transparency and adherence to legislation will see organisations that don’t have sophisticated boards with good governance practices setting themselves up for failure.

 

The successful boards of the future will start to look and act differently to what they do now. I see that the business environment – and the people within it – now and in ten years will require no less than this.

What do you see the board of the future looking like?


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3 Comments
  • Lisa, thanks for the opportunity to comment, especially being an old but hopefully not too stuffy male.. I agree with your four propositions in particular your comments re gender and diversity more generally. In the case of Trees For Life out of a Board of ten we have 6 females and 4 males and a wide age range with an average of the low 40’s. We do not have indigenous representation which is a target for us especially dealing as we do with conservation and land management issues. Just as an aside of the ten board members, 2 were born in the UK, 2 in Canada, 1 in India, I in Holland and the remainder in Australia. It’s a good and productive mix.
    Improved use of technology including social media is paramount and something which we’ve struggled with until the past couple of years with new databases, a new CEO and younger board members educated in and used to working with new technologies. We need to do more work remotely and also supplement our physical board meetings (indispensable in my view for real communication) with better use of technology. I’m interested in Our Cat Herder as a means of keeping things moving and not restricted to the usual monthly cycle.
    I agree with your other propositions, Lisa, but they are of much relevance to Trees For Life given the location and nature of our business.
    Hope these comments help and thank again for the opportunity to comment.
    Kind regards, David M

    • Thanks for your comments David. It looks like Trees for Life has a dynamic board that is already taking advantage of diversity across many factors. Keep up the great work and good luck with your continued introduction of technology!

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