“Technology leaves companies naked and it’s time to buff up,” says Phil Cowcill, facilitating a session at an e-learning conference I am attending this week in San Francisco.
He believes all boards and companies should embark on a workout schedule and, if necessary, hire a personal trainer so they look good under the scrutiny of stakeholders using social media. “You can’t keep technology out of the room,” Cowcill says, “so use it to learn what your stakeholders really think, feel and see.”
Your skin, in addition to being toned and oiled, needs to be thick, says Cowcill, for sometimes your stakeholders will say and do things that you feel threaten the company, but if you learn to think of them as partners rather than threats— people with whom you have collaborative dialogue—then you will gain more value than you will by playing defensively.
We discuss the recent decision by Gap, Inc. to withdraw their new logo in response to customer feedback on Twitter and Facebook.
Was Gap really committed to the logo or did they just float it on Facebook to test the response?
What have they gained in column inches and from appearing to be responsive to their customers?
What have they learned that will inform new product launches and strategic initiatives?
However you address the questions above, your answers will demonstrate the need for new thinking around stakeholder—including shareowner—engagement. How good does your board’s body look in the social media age? Leave your comments below.
Having a global perspective – or at least someone on the board asking the right questions relating to global changes – is critical for today’s companies. Major international demographic changes are taking place in the U.S. and around the world. These changes impact how we do business and where our opportunities and challenges are.
At a recent gathering of corporate directors, many questions were raised about “the global question.”
About who in the boardroom is raising the questions, and do we have the range of skill sets, experiences, and backgrounds necessary to address these changes in the competitive environment?
Is someone asking what our crisis communication plan is? The plan needs to be developed well before a crisis in order to be out in front of the social media avenues, delivering the message concerning the crisis.
For insights on how former Exxon Mobil director Reatha Clark King and former ConocoPhillips chairman and CEO Archie Dunham handled major crises at their companies, view NACD’s webinar (complimentary for NACD members); for more and for sample plans, see NACD’s Board Leadership for the Company in Crisis, (full disclosure: I co-authored this publication).
If we are to protect the reputation of the company, we can’t be the last to get the message out. Changes in criteria for board leadership to meet today’s challenges can be overlooked as well. We need to look carefully at the challenges and opportunities in our current and future environment, our short-term and long-term strategy, and ask ourselves whether the right people are at the table to meet those challenges. Click below to see a quick video about how NACD’s Board Advisory Services can help your board meet global (and other) challenges head-on.