Jun. 01, 2016
Today's Consumer is Smarter - Is Your Board?
Today when it comes to adding new members to your board of directors, creating a balance between industry experience and innovation is extraordinarily important. Filling board seats with industry veterans and compliance experts may feel comfortable in the short term, but to adapt to today’s savvy and demanding consumer, companies must be more forward thinking.
We’ve all witnessed the recent evolution of the C-suite -companies bringing in new, young talent, often from other industries, to modernize a brand, enhance the store experience or to leverage technology .Now it’s time to see this same movement take hold at the board level. To build a board that will successfully take your company into the future, you need to expand the way you recruit new members. Here are some recommendations:
1- Select board members who are currently working.
You need talent on your board that is talking to the consumer now. You need experts who are as smart -no, smarter -than today’s consumer. You need to add members who know what your consumers will want tomorrow. Experience is great, but experience is in the past. Your board members must be able to help you get to the future.
Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of lnstagram, is a perfect example. He was brought on to the board of Wal-Mart Stores because he lives in the future. His community of more than 300 million lnstagram users provides invaluable insight. Kevin is young, connected to today’s consumer and forward thinking.
2- Infuse your board with leaders who embrace the future through technology.
Board members have to recognize that technology has changed your consumers’ behavior, not just the way they shop.
Today we often hear retailers say, “The future is upon us.” Board members must recognize that the future isn’t upon us -the present is. The future is what’s happening next. Thus, you need board members who can see around corners. These leaders must be able to anticipate tomorrow’s innovations and understand how these innovations will shape consumer behavior and buying habits.
We added Ivy Ross to the board of DXL, the largest big and tall men’s chain in the United States. Ivy is the head of wearable technology for Google. Now the DXL board is in touch with the future.
3- Look for board members from outside your industry.
It’s important to gain insight into your consumers from various perspectives. Find someone for your board who sells something different but to the same customer. A luxury retailer may want a board member from a fine dining restaurant -for example, if Anthony Bourdain were to join the board of LVMH. Or, because the in-store experience is so critical to your brand, you may want to bring on someone from the media/entertainment industry.
4- Make your board three-dimensional with members who have your consumers’ “voice.”
A retailer’s board should be a reflection of its consumer -whether that includes women, millennials or the luxury shopper. For instance, Starbucks named 34-year-old Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, a social media marketing management platform, to its board back in 2011 to represent both the women’s and millennials’ “voice” and spending power. Clara was 29 years old at the time she was appointed. A smart board will diversify its leadership to include executives that bring a new perspective to the table.
Does your board have this combination of talent?
To be effective, your board must be a balance of the wisdom that comes from experience with the foresight that is capable of keeping up with the fastest-moving consumer in retail history.