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How to turn your board members into digital transformation savvies

Maybe they already are, savvies that is! Then this piece is not for you.

But do they need to be enlightened and/or educated? Yes, would be the short answer. Elaborated – to stay relevant in the digital economy/era you need to know what it takes to succeed, you need to know the threats and the opportunities that lies ahead and you need to make sure your business model is aligned.

With knowledge about this a savvy board can help foster and guide their companies to prosperity.

And, is it your responsibility? Well, do you want the best preconditions to thrive in the digital economy? Then you have to make sure your board is up to the challenge of giving you the very best sparring and guidance.

But how to go about it? Inspired by MIT, reverse mentoring is one of our answers. 

Reverse mentoring

At the same time as we all need to get a bit more data literate, our boards need to step up and become digital transformation savvies, to make sure their companies are relevant to their stakeholders. 

We all have responsibilities in an enterprise or organisation, so has the board.

Boards are generally really good at governance and coaching business success, however there are often improvements to be made within the data savviness area, not implying that every board is digital transformation illiterate.

Normally when wanting to increase any kind of knowledge level you educate yourself, by taking a course, getting a mentor or reading up on the subject so this issue could of course be addressed the same way.

However a course could sometimes be both quite time consuming and expensive, reading up can be equally time consuming – and this is why we vote for a reverse mentorship model, and also a couple of adjustment to the already existing board meeting agendas.

Let the best equipped for the education will then guide and educate the board, namely the CIO or equivalent.

A couple of take aways

Where to start? Below a couple of take aways:

  • Add a digital disruption topic to the board meeting agenda

    • discuss potential threats and opportunities with digitalisation

    • identify and set relevant metrics to follow up on

  • Let the CIO (or equivalent) be part of board meetings, and not just listening in, but contributing with insights on data literacy, digital disruption and transformation.

    • Present trends, good examples and ideas

  • Set up a reverse mentoring program for board members – held by CIO

    • Allocate time!

    • Identify the top three most relevant topics and start with them, focusing on one at a time. This will get you started with the first couple of meetings. On the third meeting decide on next topic and set time and date. 

    • Identify short assignments for each topic, that the board member has to investigate/fulfill ahead of each meeting. In order to get a grip on the subject and to be in the right mind set.


And remember, practice makes perfect!

Written by Susannah Eriksson