Grow or Die: Imperatives of a value-added director.

Author:Smith, Lauren E.

The world is transforming around us at an unsettling pace--bitcoins, robotics, drones and a myriad of other technical advances are changing business models across every industry.

According to the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), what are the two top issues for boards in 2017-2018? Significant industry changes and business model disruption.

Never before have boards played such an important role in asking probing questions of management and bringing an outside perspective into the boardroom to ensure that the company is not blindsided by emerging technologies or new competitors.

Excellent boards go beyond governance --they serve as strategic assets to companies and help them reach their full potential. Savvy directors are pushing themselves to keep up with the swift changes happening in the world. Rather than relying on past experience, they're actively seeking new experiences and contacts that will enable them to develop a fresh perspective to better understand the challenges being faced by companies today.

Here are seven ways directors can keep up and stay current to add value in today's boardroom.

  1. Engage between board meetings. A constant challenge for companies is timely, transparent and relevant communication leading to key decisions. While the big decisions are finalized at board meetings, key issues are often discussed between board meetings. Touching base and being available to provide advice and ideas as strategy and projects unfold is just as important as your input during board meetings. Building a strong rapport with your CEO and other key executives will keep you engaged on the front lines.

  2. Put on the hats of both the customer and the employee. Knowing how customers and employees perceive your business will give you a 360-degree view of the business and enable you to engage with management and your fellow board members in a more meaningful way. Take time to visit stores, offices or plants on an ongoing basis to maintain a fresh perspective about what is happening in the business. Talk to customers with whom you come in contact in the course of your travels and daily life to get their insights. Check out competitors to see what they offer that your company does not. And keep up with what employees are saying on websites such as Glassdoor ( and Blind ( Follow your own executives, as well as key executives at your competitors, on Twitter and Accompany, a relationship...

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