Supporting Good Governance in the ‘New Normal’
Just over twelve months from when the first rounds of lockdowns and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began to grip organisations, what has been dubbed the ‘new normal’ for businesses is starting to take shape. Some organisations have excelled during this time – rapidly adapting to changes in working requirements, consumer behaviour and government restrictions and even operating more efficiently and successfully than before. Others are still struggling or have had to close their doors. It will take several years to fully assess the true business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As vaccines move into a widespread rollout and many Government stimulus programs around the world come to an end, we will see a stark contrast between those organisations that have truly adapted and taken confident action in the face of uncertainty and those that have not.
Supporting Good Governance
Reflecting on the descriptive language used for organisations during the height of the pandemic, the metaphorical journey was akin to weathering the storm. Organisations were navigating uncertainty, responding to situations that were fluid and rapidly shifting, exploring unchartered territory.
This created a sharp focus on the critical role of governance, which at its root is to steer.
Directors have been challenged in ways that we have not experienced before in modern business. Boards are at the helm providing quality decision making, sound financial stewardship and compliance with regulations and support measures related to the pandemic. This is coupled with the rise of much-needed activism for racial, gender and social justice measures.
Boards are being tasked to make binding decisions in areas that may test the boundaries of their own expertise, knowledge and experience. Very few organisations outside of the healthcare sector had Director level expertise to navigate the impacts of a pandemic level infectious disease.
During this time, the complementary nature of best practice Advisory structures to support good governance and Directors was highlighted in the global media right through to the local small businesses. Accessing independent, strategic insight and advice from experts supports robust discussion, critical thinking and sound internal decision making by Boards and Executives.
Flexibility and Rapid Deployment
As the world begins to set its sights on a post-pandemic ‘new normal’, we must also shift our internal approach to change. Reacting to change, or even embracing change are no longer viable options. Organisations, from the Board table through to the shop floor, must have the capacity and capability to both internally agitate change and externally leverage change.
Best practice Advisory Boards provide organisations with the flexibility to adapt to their specific needs and the ability to be rapidly deployed – which also suits the accelerated timeframes required of decision making in a period of rapid change.
Over the past twelve months we have seen practical Advisory Board use cases across a variety of organisations including:
- The COVID-19 Advisory Board announced in November 2020 by then President-elect of the United States Joe Biden as part of his presidential transition.
- An increase in Advisory councils for Police Boards in the US to address systemic racial injustice in policing.
- Tik Tok’s European Safety Advisory Council launched to provide expert, third-party insight into its various content and enforcement decisions in order to improve its overall approach.
- Software giant Adobe formed its International Advisory Board to guide customers on navigating the changing digital landscape.
- Sportstech Industries formed an Advisory Board to support the commercialisation of their world-first sensor-based system that detects no-ball deliveries in Cricket.
Whether it is a project-based COVID Advisory Board of experts supporting President Biden’s transition team into the White House or an Advisory Board supporting an entrepreneurial local food delivery business experiencing 60% overnight growth at the height of the pandemic, the ability to access independent thinking and expertise has a positive impact on business confidence.
President Biden’s COVID Advisory Board had a ninety-day scope to support transition and help drive towards the goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days (they hit the goal in fifty-eight days).
Directors, Owners and Executives that actively seek out support will be well-positioned for not only post-pandemic recovery but to confidently steer the organisation through any future storms.