Board communication in challenging times
On November 8th, BBTP members were grateful to hear a presentation by our expert member, Berit Virtanen-Thewlis, the CEO of More Consulting Oy. Berit spoke to both BBTP members and customers about board communication in challenging times.
Berit has a diverse professional background, spanning journalism, public relations, entrepreneurship, and corporate leadership. Her background is also quite international, with experience working in four different countries. Berit’s expertise lies in leveraging communication and storytelling to navigate complex situations and enhance manageability in boards and leadership teams. She has a knack for swiftly assessing conditions, exploring alternative progress models, and coaching in evolving communication environments.
Berit’s presentation shed light on the evolving landscape of board governance and the proactive role boards must play in fostering transparent, accountable, and effective communication. If you were unable to attend the presentation, we have summarized some key points below so that you can catch up on our community’s conversation. Remember, BBTP members can always find information about upcoming Member Meetings on the home page of the platform, under “exclusive contents”.
What is the role and value of the board?
In order to get on the same page, Berit provided a concise definition of board communication, emphasizing its role in sharing information between board members and other stakeholders. The primary function of a board, she noted, is to make value-enhancing decisions through effective collaboration and communication, establishing trust as the bedrock for constructive decision-making.
Although many principles of good board communication have been around since the beginning of boards, the role of the board is constantly evolving. The values of trust, accountability, and transparency remain strong; however, times are changing. Berit stressed the need for boards to prepare for common challenges they may face.
By preparing for the bad times during the good, boards can create agile and effective communication principles. Berit highlighted some key benefits of effective board communication, from better decision-making and improved governance to stakeholder confidence and long-term value creation.
The board’s role in crisis communication
Next, Berit illustrated the complex web of board communication, focusing on three key areas — intra-board communication, board/staff communication, and external communication. When facing a crisis, strategic consideration should be taken regarding communication at every level. Thus, crisis communication should not be seen as an additional category but as cutting across all three areas.
When a crisis hits— whether from an outside factor (like a global pandemic) or an internal factor (like the bad behavior of a key employee)— the board’s involvement is crucial. Typically, the board’s work remains in the background, supporting the CEO with advice on how to move forward. However, board members do not always have to be behind the scenes. Berit believes boards could also be better utilized in outward-facing crisis communication.
For example, if there is a board member with a specialty in an area largely affected by the crisis, it might make sense for that board member to be actively involved in supporting the crisis communication process. Their expertise and reputation can help reassure external stakeholders by showing there is an additional layer of expertise team working to manage the crisis.
Preparing for challenging times ahead
One point that Berit drove home was the inevitability of challenging times. With an unending list of risks— not limited to regulatory changes, global uncertainties, supply chain disruptions, and security threats— every company is bound to face a crisis. By planning and practicing crisis management responses, boards can prepare themselves for an uncertain future and be ready to adapt as new crises evolve.
Boards as risk-taking entities
Near the end of her presentation, Berit opened a discussion surrounding a new trend in board leadership. Drawing from a 2023 Gartner survey, she highlighted that boards are becoming more open to adopting innovative strategies and taking on increased risks to navigate challenges like recessions, economic instability, and inflationary influences.
Berit sees risk-taking as a positive trend for boards, indicating that board members are getting out of traditional mindsets and aiming to be more proactive. However, risks should never overstep the core function of the board. Board members should stay vigilant when balancing risk and responsible decision-making.
Dynamic boards of the future
Berit ended her presentation by emphasizing the transformation of traditional boards into more agile and responsive entities. She believes that successful boards of the future will be agents in dynamic corporate communications.
In closing, Berit extended her gratitude to attendees and an invitation to connect with those who need help navigating uncertainty. With the corporate landscape continually evolving, her insights serve as a guide for boards and leadership teams seeking to embrace change and lead their organizations into the future.
More Consulting Oy
t. +358 40 5114460
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