I was chatting with a group of directors the other day about diversity on boards. In South Africa, as elsewhere, gender and racial diversity are imperatives.
We got to musing over skills diversity: engineers, scientists, accountants, and I realised that we were all talking “qualification” rather than “skill”. I am a scientist (qualification) and I am also skilled at integrative thinking. One might be a doctor, skilled at communicating. A person could be a statistician, with artistic ability.
To be effective, a board needs to be diverse not only in theoretical knowledge (usually gained by qualifications and consequent experience), and in demographic representation, but also in what I term ‘implementation’ skills. We need good communicators, good abstract imaginers, good idea conceptualisers, good lateral thinkers, good systems conceivers, good network perceivers and good linear logic functionalists. We desperately need good ‘people connectors’.
I wonder what a ‘board skills needs map’ of this sort would look like? Most importantly, I wonder what the gaps might be if a board mapped its ‘implementation’ skills needs against its current capacity, and how that gap might influence board performance. Please, let me know!