In addition to critical business skills like leadership, strategy, risk management, flexibility and sound judgment, the familiar but valid cliché that nothing is as constant as change may be the most enduring.
Few know that better than the 13,000 coast-to-coast members of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), the voice of Canadian directors and boards. The distinguished not-for-profit association provides top-quality education, advocacy and thought leadership in conjunction with improving trust and confidence in Canadian organizations by developing and activating directors.
Vancouver was the host city of the ICD National Conference and Fellowship Awards Gala this past May – one of Canada’s most influential business events, bringing together seasoned directors, executives and industry leaders for two days of thought leadership, networking and celebration.
It was an invaluable opportunity to provide insights on emerging governance issues in and outside the boardroom to prepare directors to lead their organizations to success.
The conference speakers and panellists focused on this year’s theme: Boldness in the Boardroom, Preparing for the Next World Order – underscoring the importance of leadership in a world of disruption.
The relevant agenda included timely topics such as the future of Canadian trade and touched on the nature of Canada’s future trade relationships, from NAFTA and beyond, with a concentration on the implications of supply-management reform, global security issues, integration of transportation systems and the flow of goods across our borders.
The conference examined the thorny issue of social licence in volatile times, suggesting that a “business as usual” strategy will no longer work, and instead urged engagement with stakeholders in an evolving and multifaceted landscape.
The ICD conference discussed maintaining a competitive advantage while balancing risk and innovation in the boardroom and what boards may consider about affecting strategic decisions around innovation. The panellists recommended that boards be willing to invest in four or five projects at once and become comfortable with failure, even reward it.
And although the conference focus was corporate and management, the discussions got personal! On the vital topic of leader character in the spotlight, the panellists emphasized that in the era of #MeToo, board oversight of leader character has never been more critical and that boards must address character-related issues pre-emptively.
With the crucial and multifaceted impact of technology, the ICD conference stressed various aspects of governance in the blockchain age, one of the most transformative technologies since the Internet. The panellists urged the importance of directors being prepared for the effects it will have on their organization’s business models and to evaluate and use blockchain to drive growth and create long-term value.
Directors were encouraged make sure their organizations have accurate data which is a prerequisite for building successful blockchain solutions, and the conference panellists also asserted that blockchain may have the potential to provide solutions for non-traditional risks caused by poor governance, market failures and bad data.
Overall, the ICD conference underscored that, particularly in today’s unpredictable business world, leadership in the boardroom is not an option, but a necessity!
Boards and directors must be bold, embrace risk and enable innovation to thrive.