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Mastering Board Governance in the Digital Age

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With the proliferation of remote workers and work-from-home culture, many board members are finding themselves in an increasingly digital world. Boards are holding virtual board meetings, sharing and managing documents through the cloud, and conducting voting and polling online. This introduces the question of governance in a digital age — everything from how board members can ensure that they meet their responsibilities to how they can properly store and protect their data.

Holding Board Meetings in the Digital Space

While many enjoy digital meetings, others feel adrift. When properly managed, digital meetings can be productive, efficient, and convenient. When improperly managed, board meetings can lead to feelings of frustration and alienation — employees be unable to focus on a dry meeting within a virtual space

According to experts on HBR, there are a number of things that can make virtual board meetings more effective:

  • Reviewing the information in advance. Board members can be delivered overviews of the materials to be covered digitally and can review these documents in real-time, making better use of the time that’s spent in meetings.
  • Holding shorter, higher impact meetings. For many, it’s harder to maintain attention during online meetings. Holding shorter, data-driven meetings is a great way to keep everyone engaged and avoid “this could have been an email” syndrome.
  • Building trust and familiarity between board members. Board members need to feel comfortable with each other and feel comfortable communicating their thoughts and their concerns. Taking time to build trust can help.
  • Utilizing “break out” rooms for smaller conversations. Support communications between board members, either one-on-one or in smaller groups. Not every communication has to go through the entire group, and this fosters a sense of connection.

Importantly, a challenge of holding board meetings and managing board members in a digital space is that board members may feel as though they don’t know each other. They may not be able to work well together because they haven’t effectively bonded. To counter this, meetings should encourage informal, one-on-one communications — and provide for social interactivity between all members of the board.

Sharing and Collaborating on Files

To collaborate within the digital age, board members need to be able to share files, documents, and even screens while they are online. Establishing portals for board members is often the best solution. A digital portal allows for the consolidation of vital documents and communication. All board members can log into the same platform and portal to view meeting minutes, financial statements, and other reports. At any time, members can connect and communicate regarding documents, and can even collaborate on documents together in real-time.

For mission-driven organizations and purpose-led businesses, it’s critical that all board members remain on the same page. When board members are in the same geographic location and are able to meet in person, they can share files, look at documents together, and collaborate quickly in real-time. These things are all possible in a digital space, but they require the right technological tools. Cloud-based systems, board management platforms, and conferencing solutions (such as Zoom and MS Teams) can all be utilized to ensure that board members are able to easily connect with each other and hold meetings.

Establishing a Digital Governance Team

Organizations, teams, and nonprofits will need to establish a digital governance team if they are going to operate in the digital space. A digital governance team must be composed of individuals who understand technology, its benefits, and its risks. It will be the goal of the digital governance team to:

  • Assess the technology that the board members use.
  • Ensure that the technology is properly secured.
  • Make sure that stakeholders get information in a timely fashion.
  • Regularly audit and reassess the organization’s needs.

Boards that conduct their activities online are going to be manipulating confidential and protected data. Not everyone has an in-depth understanding of technology. It is the role of the digital governance team to ensure that technology is being used correctly and that data remains secure. If data-related issues do occur, the digital governance team will need to assess the situation and determine the right solutions moving forward.

The very idea that board members can exist within a digital space is an exciting one. Whether in the private or public sector, the idea that board members are able to convene regardless of where they are geographically located is an important one. Organizations are now able to tap into resources and talent from anywhere in the world. They are able to conduct meetings at convenient times and in convenient places while members are on the go. Businesses, teams, and profits can leverage new technologies to streamline their organization’s processes and improve pon their communication.

But because this is a huge paradigm shift, it also demands that organizations reassess some of their core processes — especially when it comes to meeting protocols and data and document management. Boardable can help. Schedule a demo with us today to learn more about the services that Boardable can offer you and your organization.

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