Need to overcome an embarrassing situation, rescue your brand from financial disaster, shift the company in a new direction or shore up some expertise in a currently weak area? It may be time to make a change to your board. Even if the company is healthy and solid and you just want to strengthen your position for the future, a strategically placed new board member can help.
Apple is a good example of a company doing well but desperately in need of a board change. CEO Tim Cook, who took over after the death of Steve Jobs, has publicly announced that he has plans to take the company into new markets as early as this year, so the fact that he wants to shake up the board with some new blood is no surprise.
Cook was handed a board of directors that was fiercely loyal to his predecessor. Most of them have held their positions for more than a decade, and six of the eight are already 63 or older.
Just last week, Don Mattrick, CEO of Zynga, named Regina Dugan, vice president of engineering and head of the Advanced Technology and Projects group at Google, to the online gaming company’s board, calling her a “catalyst for creative thinking,” according to Tech Crunch.
In May, Abercrombie & Fitch added four women to its board of directors after activity Engage pushed for a management shakeup. A&F suffered a heavy popularity blow after CEO Mike Jeffries made negative remarks about overweight consumers, publicly stating that he didn’t want fat people wearing his clothes. A&F’s clothing line only goes up to size 10.
And then there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room: cyber-security. The subject is now a regular agenda item for companies such as Kellogg’s and Tyson Foods, thanks to Target. Of note, Delta Airlines added a tech-security specialist to its board recently to ensure it could keep its vital passenger data safe.
Strategic shifts such as these are picking up steam. Going forward, companies will be expecting more out of their board members, and as a result, will be making more tactical board choices.