Right brain skills crucial in today’s board work

July 2, 2015

Right brain skills crucial in today’s board work

Recent Board Perspectives article by Partner Thomas Holm Møller focuses on the challenges of modern business leaders and the importance of boards incorporating innovation and creativity in their work.

Today, businesses increasingly find themselves forced to disrupt their own business model and identify new opportunities before the competition does. When faced with the choice of doing nothing, adapting to change or driving change, the key to remaining relevant is to embrace market changes and use them to one’s advantage – lead rather than being led. In this context, innovation and creativity have risen from being necessary virtues to suddenly being the key corporate levers to success.

Whereas scale used to be key in securing a solid business, companies today need to be fast, fluid and flexible. A look at current boards shows that there is a shift away from focusing on achieving consensus towards applying diverse insights and experiences to engage in recurrent, idea-generating dialogues with management. Board diversity and flexibility are most certainly on the agenda, but need to be expanded beyond traditional aspects of age, gender and ethnicity. So-called right brain functions, widely associated with the capacity of synthesising and basing reasoning on intuition, challenge the more logical, linear and analytical reasoning popularly attributed to the left part of the brain. Given the quest for innovation among corporates, it is reasonable to expect that the quest for right brain qualities in leadership to complement those attributed to the left part of the brain will grow exponentially in the years ahead.

When it comes to inviting non-conventional, “right brain” profiles to their boards, Denmark is lagging behind the US. Not surprisingly, much of the US susceptibility to uncommon board compositions is driven by the tech-revolution and a new breed of companies emerging out of the entrepreneurial environments in Silicon Valley and the nascent bio-sector on the East Coast, but more traditional US companies also seem to be welcoming this trend. Apple, Walmart, Coca-Cola and Macy’s all have boards where the need for innovation and creativity is reflected in their composition.

We need to step up in Denmark. Boards should dare to think differently. Prepare a top-20 list of new generation entrepreneurs or unconventional profiles acknowledged within their fields. Spearhead change by welcoming new members from the social and/or digital economy. Boards must get used to adapting to change, sometimes even leading it, unless they want to be led or even dragged along by circumstances beyond their control. The latter is rarely a flattering option.

Read the article