How a ‘shadow board’ can help a company overcome obstacles

    A lot of companies struggle with two apparently unrelated problems: disengaged younger workers and a weak response to changing market conditions, Harvard Business Review reports.

    A few companies have tackled both problems with one solution: creating a “shadow board”—a group of non-executive employees who work with senior executives on strategic initiatives. The purpose? Leveraging the younger groups’ insights and diversifying the perspectives given to executives.

    For example, Stora Enso, a Finnish paper and packaging company, used its shadow board to revise how the executive committee assigned work.

    Previously, work was assigned to groups the executives considered experts and therefore best suited to the assignment. The shadow board, however, convinced them to assign certain tasks to non-experts, arguing an unbiased view would increase the chance of breakthroughs. One project aimed at reducing supply-chain lead time had stumped a supposedly expert team, but the new team with different experience came up with a workable plan within six months.

    In another example, the fashion company Gucci underwent a comprehensive transformation that made the company more relevant to today’s marketplace over the past four years using a shadow board which meets with top executives.

    They talk through the issues that the executive committee is focused on and their insights have “served as a wakeup call for the executives.” Gucci’s sales have since grown 136%—from 3,497 million Euro in 2014 to 8,285 million Euro in 2018—a growth driven largely by the success of both its internet and digital strategies. Read the full story.  

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