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The Board's Crucial Role as the Voice of Reason

Board members play a crucial role as the voice of reason when inevitable challenges arise during transformation projects. Despite meticulous planning and earnest efforts, it is almost certain that transformation initiatives will encounter obstacles in various forms. This reality is not only acceptable but should be anticipated, considering the intricate nature of an entire organization's ecosystem and its reactions to transformation.

In situations where the root cause of challenges does not stem from a lack of commitment or skill on the part of the CEO and executive teams, board members can step into the role of the voice of reason. Their task becomes normalizing the challenges for everyone present in the room. Rather than fixating on the mistakes themselves, boards should shift their focus to how CEOs and executive teams respond to these inevitable setbacks.

Key questions come to the forefront when grappling with challenges:

  • Are transformation teams repeating the same mistakes?

  • What changes are being implemented to prevent similar mistakes in the future?

  • How are teams documenting and learning from these failures?

  • In what ways are failures being acknowledged and shared?

  • How promptly is the transformation team incorporating feedback?

  • What is the emotional impact on transformation leaders and the affected employees?

When the CEO and executive team demonstrate control over the situation, boards can redirect the conversation to other topics. However, if challenges persist, boards must fulfill their roles by aiding the CEO and executive team in realigning their course. This may necessitate certain board members rolling up their sleeves and delving more deeply into the conversations, ensuring that a comprehensive plan is in place to address existing issues. While this level of involvement exceeds the typical quarterly discussions, the substantial return on this investment makes it well worthwhile.

For boards to truly add incredible value and propel their companies through transformations, active and constructive engagement is paramount. Board members have the opportunity to step up and play a pivotal role in ensuring the success of the CEO and executive team. The only hindrance to this lies in their own mindset. Although it demands additional preparation and time, the unmistakable results make this commitment an invaluable contribution to the transformative journey.


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