Boardroom connection: Why firms should foster an ‘always learning’ culture
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Boardroom connection: Why firms should foster an ‘always learning’ culture

Boardroom connection: Why firms should foster an ‘always learning’ culture

Invaluable insights and knowledge gleaned from this approach can benefit enterprises in the longer run

Boardroom

Once board wannabes get a seat at the table, they believe they only need to guide the enterprise with their expertise. Seasoned board veterans, though, know better. The truth is you can never stop learning.

Metaverse; diversity, equity and inclusion; environmental, social and governance (ESG); technologies such as augmented and virtual reality: new trends are constantly transforming the world of business. Your past experience won’t be of much use unless you have the ability and inclination to acquire new skills and learn about the latest trends. We’ve spoken to a number of senior board members and they were unanimous in their agreement, with many disruptive forces in play flummoxing them. And it is not just technology that’s causing this.

The global economic turmoil, increased pace of merger and acquisition activity, erratic business risks and tighter regulatory crackdowns are some of the current challenges for boards, for instance. Unless the directors are abreast with the impact of new events on their business and acquiring new skills, they will never be able to guide the enterprise in the right direction.

The 2020-2021 NACD Board Trends and Priorities of the American Boardroom Report found that 49 per cent of directors believe their board doesn’t allocate enough time to director education. Whether it is pre-board induction, ongoing updates, or a continuing education programme, directors’ hunger for learning isn’t getting fed.

Of course, setting aside special sessions for half-day or day-long board education (often as part of a board retreat) isn’t easy, given their busy schedules. We recommend a different approach to this problem, and we’ve tried and found this to be highly effective.

What if a 15-minute short ‘course’ or briefing on an important topic is made part of every board meeting? You can introduce education into your board agenda as a reserved, bite (or byte)-sized session. Once board wannabes get a seat at the table, they believe
they only need to guide the enterprise with their expertise.

Seasoned board veterans, though, know better. The truth is you can never stop learning. Metaverse; diversity, equity and inclusion; environmental, social and governance (ESG); technologies such as augmented and virtual reality: new trends are constantly transforming the world of business. Your past experience won’t be of much use unless you have the ability and inclination to acquire new skills and learn about the latest trends. We’ve spoken to a number of senior board members and they were unanimous
in their agreement, with many disruptive forces in play flummoxing them. And it is not just technology that’s causing this. The global economic turmoil, increased pace of merger and acquisition activity, erratic business risks and tighter regulatory crackdowns are some of the current challenges for boards, for instance. Unless the directors are abreast with the impact of new events on their business and acquiring new skills, they will never be able to guide the enterprise in the right direction.

The 2020-2021 NACD Board Trends and Priorities of the American Boardroom Report found that 49 per cent of directors believe their board doesn’t allocate enough time to director education. Whether it is pre-board induction, ongoing updates, or a continuing education programme, directors’ hunger for learning isn’t getting fed. Of course, setting aside special sessions for half-day or day-long board education (often as part of a board retreat) isn’t easy, given their busy schedules.

We recommend a different approach to this problem, and we’ve tried and found this to be highly effective. What if a 15-minute short ‘course’ or briefing on an important topic is made part of every board meeting? You can introduce education into your board agenda as a reserved, bite (or byte)-sized session.

Ralph is a global board advisor and author and Muneer is co-founder and chief evangelist at Medici Institute

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