Rebuilding our church models; we need creatives at the governance table, now

A key part of learning how to adapt to our Covid-19 reality will be rebuilding our business models.

Reverting to a “business-as-usual” mindset is at our own peril.

Instead, we have to reframe our approaches both for short-term survival and to create a better future as #Buildbackbetter and similar sentiments are on all our minds.

Every organisation has been challenged to think and act more creatively than perhaps ever before in our working lives.

Many boards are finding themselves in uncharted waters, alongside the traditional responsibility for risk and assurance, they must also boldly imagine a new future.

Dr David Peterson, director of leadership and coaching at Google, talks about managing in a VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) and says that leaders comfortable with stress, strife and change are needed because there’s going to be more of it.

Boards need to ask themselves now if they have the best-equipped people around the table to envisage the necessary transformational change.

The World Economic Forum stated in its Future of Jobs report that the top three valuable skills of the future were complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity – all skills which are more likely to be enhanced by having diverse perspectives.

While endorsing the need for diversity of age, gender, demography and upbringing, we propose another consideration: recruiting creatives.

Leaders from the arts and creative industries possess the imagination, savvy commercial ingenuity, resourcefulness and EQ that will allow boards to adapt to new conditions and even revolutionise their organisations.

Surely creativity is one of the key competencies all board members and leaders need now to imagine new paradigms and unshackle the restraints of the past and old ways of doing things.

Divergent and critical thinking is needed to solve difficult challenges, and creatives are well-placed because they have the innate ability to think outside the box and challenge convention.

Both divergent and critical thinking is needed to solve difficult challenges, and creatives are well-placed because they have the innate ability to think outside the box and challenge convention. They intuitively look for ideas from the depths of the unconscious and work at the edge of potential.

So-called “soft skills” naturally reside in many of us to one degree or another, but they are very often well-honed in creatives. Artists comfortably inhabit the world of VUCA and are accustomed to making sense out of chaos. Because their careers are often in the least-funded and most challenging environments, they have learned to not only lead with acute resourcefulness (aka the smell of an oily rag), but create beauty while often challenging assumptions.

The aim is simple: to give Boards every tool possible to empower
them to meet the challenges they face, so that their beneficiaries, communities and shareholders are best served.

There are five practical steps for any board to consider:

  • Awareness: Raise awareness around the diversity of thought and the contributions creatives can provide
  • Pathways: Identify smart methods to find qualified candidates beyond shoulder-tapping and traditional recruitment
  • Training: Provide training for those new to boards to give a greater chance of success
  • Listening: Actively listening to others perspectives fosters open-mindedness
  • Culture: Take responsibility for shaping the board culture to be one which is willing to challenge convention and embrace blue sky thinking

Individuals with a foundation in the creative arts bring imagination and diversity of thought to the board table. If the governance culture is in place to embrace their perspective, then the discussions will be far richer and the decisions more deeply nuanced and successful.

If we want boards which are not just focused on being risk managers but instead are vision-casters, then making creatives welcome will be a big stride in the right direction.

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