Every Transformation Needs A NED

In Business Change, Change Management, Digital Transformation by IRM UKLeave a Comment

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In my experience life as a Non-Executive Director is a difficult balancing act. Staying close enough to the business to understand where it is and how it is working – and yet staying out of the detail and objective enough for clear decision making. It is difficult retaining your independence and not letting those old habits allow you interfere with the Executive as it leads the execution of the agreed strategy. Monthly risk and financial reports, strategy and KPIs, the round of governance meetings – these add value to the organisation and occupy the mind – but may not always feed the soul.

Photo of Steve Taubman

Steve Taubman, Director, Change Results
Steve will be speaking at the IRM UK Business Change & Transformation Conference Europe 16-18 March 2020, London on the subject, ‘Governing Transformation and the Trouble with Boards

Meanwhile the Transformation Director faces a different problem. How to keep a dynamic and fast-moving change programme aligned and delivering against the strategy? How to keep the Vision clear and the end goal in sight for the team when they are in the middle of the underwriting process redesign or planning the phase 1 pilot of the new CRM system? In the early days Transformation teams can be amazingly energetic and full of fresh, challenging thinking. However, they can also become incredibly narrowly focused and very attached to bright ideas which may not be pragmatic enough to add value to the business day to day. As the grind of delivery takes over it can be increasingly difficult to keep the energy levels up and eyes focused on the prize at the end of the programme.

This is where the opportunity lies for both parties. In many organisations NEDs are a bit like reclusive VIP celebrities. Everyone knows they are important (although, like celebrities, they may not understand exactly why), staff see the Senior Executives treading deferentially around them, but no-one lower down the organisation ever gets to meet them. A well-managed NED visit or two adds a little celebrity stardust to a change programme – making everyone feel a little bit nervous, and a bit more valued.  This is a chance for junior team members to showcase their work, talk about their challenges and reflect on how their deliverables fit into the big picture. It can be a big morale boost if the NED is well-briefed, well-targeted and willing to be helpful.

For the NED of course there is a chance to get a little closer to the action, to gain confidence in the future that is being built and to feel the energy and drive of a future generation of business leaders. And of course, the chance to share some learning and experience from a long career – all while ticking the box for transformation governance and risk management! A win win which will leave both parties planning for another visit further down the road, and other NEDs eager to visit as well. 

Of course, the biggest winner is the Transformation Director. With a reenergised and focused team, newly sprinkled with that NED stardust, together with a more friendly and well-informed NED at that next Board presentation – the director is well placed to make sure the Transformation gets the support it needs to be successful.

Steve Taubman is an experienced Change and Transformation leader – having worked in transformation programmes for over 25 years as an Executive, Management Consultant and Senior Interim. Often working with large technology enabled transformations he specialises in Transformation Leadership and managing the human side of change, including working with senior stakeholders, which so often determines programme success or failure. He has worked with organisations ranging from large enterprises such as IBM and Lloyds Banking Group to small building societies and charities. As a Non-Executive Director for many years in both the public and private sectors, and a previous Audit Committee chair, he brings experience of Transformation from both sides of the Boardroom table.

Copyright Steve Taubman, Director, Change Results

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