Boards Stepping Up Towards The Next Normal

2020-07-01 Post from Linkedin

(*) Let's not forget that the Board's role is adding value.

Concerns about C19:

  • Long-term sustainability of the business model

  • Challenges the nimbleness and adaptability

  • WEF: prolonged global recession is the main threat in the next 18 months

  • Thoughts:

  • Not all businesses shrank; online ordering and delivery grew a lot

  • Key competitors are joining forces to fight for the industry together

Board-C-Suite Dynamics

  • Short term: support the management and help make difficult decisions

Priorities: safety, costs, business continuity, including rapid changes in the business model

  • Long term: get back to growth

  • The management has to have an evolving business continuity plan communicated to the Board.

  • Board Agenda:

Staff and their families’ health

Staff financial security

  • Can’t ignore financial commitments and expenses as revenues fall.

Make sure there’s enough cash/loans/etc [not trading while being insolvent]

  • Current pandemic is not described in any books, hence both the CxOs and the Board have to be adaptable and pragmatic.

  • Look for changes in business model and for scenarios.

Management Capacity

  • Board helps with navigating the uncharted territory and making hard decisions [supposedly, related to cuts of people and projects]

  • Much more frequent board meetings

  • Leadership starts and finishes with an understanding of who your team is and maximise their skills and talents

  • Boards present the most value when it provides critical oversight, long-term planning and strategic support

Lessons from the pandemic

  • What have we learned? What will we do better next time?

  • How must the company change? (incl. people and the ways to do things)

  • What opportunities are there (e.g. acquisitions)

  • How does the board consistently be a source of inspiration and guidance to management, without attempting to do their job

Ways of working, strategy and governance

  • WoW [ways of working]: some companies’ business continuity plans (BCP) involve work from home

Many risk managers didn’t take this seriously.

  • Board: put the BCP into the risk management agenda —> management starts taking it seriously

  • Strategy: many companies refuse to change the old ways (which must’ve been on the agenda for a while), incl. extra investments and recalibration of staff skill sets

  • Governance:

Singapore: strong reserve accumulated over years

For companies: update the dividend policy towards building reserves


  • Prepare for the post-pandemic future

  • Conserve or enhance the capability of companies to rebound strongly

  • Don’t forget to lift the staff morale