At board level, what sort of governance changes are we going to see?

“We’ve got to be able to make decisions in a very ambiguous world, very, very quickly.”


Michelle Griffey, Chief Risk Officer at Communisis, discusses the likely governance changes at the top of organisations in a post-COVID-19 world with Jeremy Swinfen Green.

Michelle will be speaking at the teissR3 | Resilience, Response and Recovery summit taking place online, 15 – 24 September.

This year, the very popular teissR3 event focuses on how to improve your organisation’s cyber resiliency and adopt best-practice in incident response and crisis management in a post-COVID-19 world. Space is limited. Register your free place by clicking here.

Video transcript

 If this oversight is going to change, how do you think corporate governance generally will be affected by the new normal? For instance, as a result of the increase in homeworking, at the top level of organisations, what sort of governance changes you’re going to see?

I think, it’s interesting. So there is a far greater ambiguity. And for years, people have talked about disruptors, but in terms of companies, particularly in tech. And COVID-19 has been the real disruptor. So it really has changed things.

So from a board perspective and in terms of governance, I think we have to be much more flexible. We’ve got to be able to make decisions in a very ambiguous world very, very quickly, with a focus on the impact on our risk landscape, with a focus on what our risk appetite is, but also how is that decision affecting our strategy. How is it affecting our resilience. How is it affecting our bottom line.

I think because of the lack of clarity as to where things will go across the piece, as boards, we’re going to have to do much more modelling. So we’re going to have to even if it’s very, very high level quick and dynamic modelling in terms of nothing very serious, but just OK, so if we do this, what’s the best worst case scenario, or if that happened, what could it impact here? I certainly know that as a company, we’ve had, since the beginning of this and actually before the government went into lockdown, we’ve had a daily touchpoint. And that’s been absolutely critical because we’ve been able to make some very swift decisions that some of them may feel quite small, but actually could have huge impacts.

So, for example, for a period, we’ve changed the fact that people would get paid on day one if they got sick. Well, that’s going to stop people potentially coming in and impacting a huge workforce. But that decision historically might have been taken to a monthly board meeting. It’s been made daily. So I think those touch points are critical. And I also think that as a board, we need to be completely aware of what the teams are thinking.

And the communications outwards has to be, and it’s always needed to be, trusting, but it’s got to be much more regular. People want to know what’s happening because they’re almost sitting in a void as well. And listen to those things, and listen to what’s coming back up as well because those guys are the ones keeping us actually safe, secure, and in business at the moment.

So if you’re going to make these more rapid decisions, are you seeing technology helping there, for instance, artificial intelligence being used to help with rapid decision making?

In terms of those board style decisions, perhaps less so at the moment. But if you take it out into the business, we’re certainly looking at, and have been working on, something whereby if you use artificial intelligence or augmented to actually read a document and understand to an extent the emotion in it, so is a complaint, is it an angry customer, is it a whatever, and therefore direct it to the right part of the business for working on.

So that’s something that we are enabling with our clients is to say, well, we’ve got this bulk of post. Actually can you use artificial intelligence to do that? I don’t think we’ve got there yet in terms of the speed of a board decision making, which is probably quite good for those of us on the board that we haven’t got a computer doing it for us.

Copyright Lyonsdown Limited 2021

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