How Boards Can Innovate
In today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, organizations have to continually reinvent themselves, and governing boards ought to be at the forefront of those transformations, as new strategies and structures fit squarely within the board of director's domain. If boards are regarded as partners with management and not just overseers, innovative ideas are as likely to come from directors and from members as from employees. In fact, some boards have even formed their own innovation committee. Within the corporate world, directors of Procter & Gamble recently established an innovation and technology committee. Pfizer, meanwhile, created a science and technology committee.

The value of a board's active engagement in innovation can perhaps best be seen at Diebold, a $3 billion company founded in 1876. The company has survived much longer than most major manufacturers because of its dedication to embracing innovation and new technologies. Virtually none of its products today resemble those from a century ago, and its board members ensure that the company continues to incorporate innovation and technology so that it will survive another 100 years. Last year during the board's yearly self-evaluation, several directors recommended that a committee be created to work explicitly with the company’s new CEO on innovation and technology. Thus, the three-person technology strategy and innovation committee was born. They also developed a charter for the committee requiring it to "provide management with a sounding board," to evaluate "management proposals for strategic technology investments," serve as a "source of external perspective," and work with management on its “overall technology and innovation strategy." Diebold has subsequently put its innovation committee members on call for everything from brainstorming to networking.
Bloomberg (05/21/14) Useem, Michael
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