NACD recently moved into modern new offices at 2001 Pennsylvania Avenue—an address reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Stanley Kubrick epic filmed in the late 1960s.
Remember those galaxy-crossing spaceships? How far away the future seemed then! In those days, the world transformed slowly; the next unknowable future was decades away.
Today the pace of change is faster. A radically different future is as close as the next decade, just eight short years from now. Since director tenure averages about eight years (that’s what our staff researchers tell me), this means that for directors, the future is just the day after tomorrow.
The NACD board has approved a formal initiative to prepare directors for that new day. We want to anticipate what resources and programs directors will need in the very new environment that will confront them even during their current board tenure. The scope of this project is still uncharted, but we are already collecting questions. Here are some of mine. By 2020:
- What new skills will directors need?
- What new information will be essential for boards to gather?
- What new technologies will alter the way boards operate?
- What inventions will change industries and therefore strategy?
- How and will boards become more diverse?
- Will boards become more multinational?
- How will the balance of power among owners, directors and managers shift?
- Will boards remain their current size, expand or contract?
- Will boards make greater use of advisors, in previously uncharted territories?
- Will audit, compensation and nomination/governance remain the most prevalent committees, or will a fourth committee arise?
- Will lead directors and independent chairs remain equally viable alternatives for governance, or will one model dominate?
If you have read to the end of this list, you are already part of the NACD 2020 initiative. Welcome to the journey. Send me your questions so we can move forward together.
Kenneth Daly is president and CEO of NACD.