Keeping up with the times always requires aggressive change. Today, Tom Fox connects with Sheila Hooda, an independent board director and strategic advisor who has 30+ years of global executive-level experience growing and transforming Fortune 500 companies. She is also the CEO & President of Alpha Advisory Partners and a prolific thought leader and speaker in the areas of governance, strategy and leadership.

  • Across the corporate landscape, the digital dimension of our world is changing everything. Tom asks Sheila about how boards can define and understand the market, demographic, and regulatory disruptions that are accelerating across industries, sectors and business models. Sheila describes how the position of tech has changed so rapidly and the risks of failing to adapt to this new world from the perspective of a board of directors.
  • The function and structures of boards have remained largely unchanged for the past 200 years. Tom asks Sheila how boards can be encouraged to move beyond an outdated framework and embrace innovation in their organizations. Sheila suggests three main areas of renewal that boards can focus on when embracing the digital and technological disruptions of our time:
  • The first focus is about integrating strategy discussions with technology, innovation, risk, and culture. Sheila breaks this down into these four pieces:
    • In an environment where disruption is happening everywhere, boards must ask some fundamental questions: do we have the right skills at the table? Or do we need to bring in new talent and perspectives that will provide a deeper understanding of the digital and technological shifts of the day?
    • One strategy meeting a year just doesn’t cut it anymore. Because the world is changing so quickly, a board’s strategy process must be more agile than ever. This means more meetings and more targeted discussions year-round.
    • Boards can’t afford to not take risks. Sheila pinpoints the importance of shifting board culture from caretaking and oversight to future-forward innovation-seeking that is receptive to risk and failure and the lessons they bring.
    • Metrics of success need to match the turbulence of the times. Sheila suggests that the brainstorming and experimentation required for innovation should be a company-wide metric target; people at every level should be given the space to be innovative.
  • The second focus is human capital and talent. Having the right people in the right places means not just filling roles, but also making sure that newcomers and veterans alike are aligned with a company’s vision and social purpose. Sheila talks about the importance of reskilling and retraining for the new environment and adapting to new models of work that feature more part-time and remote workers.
  • Sheila brings up an incredibly important consideration for the future. In an age of automation, she sees a coming shift in the way that companies and organizations understand human capital. Boards will need to be ready to take on the challenge of answering a crucial question: how can humans and machines work best together?
  • The third focus is about the relationship between the board and management. While the traditional split between these two departments has left high-level fiduciary responsibility to the board and executive day-to-day operations with management, Sheila believes that fostering innovation and weathering unprecedented disruptions will require more trust, transparency, and shared responsibility.
  • Tom asks Sheila why it’s so important for boards of directors to be the flag-bearers of change; she offers some thoughts on why these kinds of changes aren’t external or secondary but fit into their existing fiduciary responsibilities.