Earn Board Buy-In for Digital Transformation
If we’re not advancing, we’re falling behind. But the status quo feels comfortable for the board. Find out how to earn board buy-in for transformative tech.
Change is never easy. A significant change within an organization could lead to six months to a year of disruption and productivity loss before the benefits of that change become apparent. On top of that, transformative digital solutions are often expensive to implement. So you’re looking at an added cost plus a delayed pay off. What’s not to love if you’re a board member who’s been tasked with safeguarding shareholder returns now?
As a leader within a corporation, learning how to earn board buy-in to course-altering, competition-shattering, five-year-projections-busting innovation is the name of the game. We’re here to show you how it’s done.
1.Focus on the Long-Term
The strengths of any business innovation are in the long-term. The more you can keep the presentation and conversation in the long-term, the better you’ll fare. That doesn’t mean you don’t answer questions to discuss short-term disruptions that may take place. But keeping the board’s eye on the prize.
When Netflix went from a DVD-by-mail to a streaming service, streaming was an emerging industry. It involved incredible investment in cutting-edge technology and original content. The short-term for Netflix was a bumpy ride. In 2010, they launched streaming. In 2011, they separated their streaming and DVD business, losing over 800,000 of their 23.8M subscribers in one quarter. Stock prices dropped 42%.
But by the end of 2012, they’d netted a four million subscriber gain. And in 2019, they have over 60M subscribers.
Focus on the long-term.
2. Industry Tides Are Changing
Often transformative technologies are less about doing something cutting-edge. They’re more about moving with industry changes. To earn board buy-in, demonstrate the direction that the industry is moving. If your corporation is not moving with the tide, it’ll be caught in the undertow, and carried out the sea where once-great companies go to die.
Put that visual in your board members’ minds.
3. Customer Expectations Are Changing
Board members, by nature, will have a conservative viewpoint of change. The world may be adapting all around us, but we’ve always done it this way, and it’s worked for us. Let’s keep on doing it.
Help board members see how their new generations of customers expect something different from them. And if they don’t meet those demands, others swoop in to fill the void.
For example, 88% of customers today expect businesses to help them make a difference in areas like:
- Sustainable business practices
- Responsible capitalism
- Giving back
Customers today also expect:
- A more dynamic online presence
- Omni-channel customer service
- More personalized customer experience
Business innovation that includes transformative technologies makes these things possible.
4. Spend Money to Make Money
Yes, it sounds cliché. But businesses require continual investment to stay relevant. That takes money. To whatever extent possible, reasonably project that ROI and present it.
5. Generate Supporters
Each board member has a distinct background. They’ve likely been involved in similar transformative technologies in the past. Learn about board member backgrounds. In a one-one setting, help those most likely to support your cause see your vision. Speak with members from a variety of experiences to gain insight from several angles to improve your pitch before the directors.
6. Create a Clear Road Map
Please don’t leave it to the board to imagine how business innovation gets us from here to there. Lay it out in writing with objectives and projected outcomes. Set their expectations for the success you know is possible.
7. Don’t Ignore Setbacks
As you paint the picture, make it clear that you expect setbacks. It is irresponsible to think everything will go off without a hitch. But through your realism, you can also plan for set-backs and mitigate risks to meet business goals.
How to Earn Board Buy-in
Focus on the long-term. Show them how the tides are changing in the industry and their customer base. Generate champions for your cause who understand what this will mean to the company. Help your board manage their expectations by painting a picture that includes both the tremendous potential and the possibility of setbacks.
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