The “Elevator Pitch” with Bryan MacDonald

Where were you when you came up with the concept?

I was sitting in the Board Practice at Heidrick & Struggles observing the people around me responding to the Lehman crisis.

What was your inspiration?

At that meeting, I was very impressed with the speed in which my colleagues were able to create a response.  They quickly made some insightful observations around the broken governance model that had existed.  They pulled together a team from the outside making critical recommendations to what a good board should look like.  However, I was left with a sense of “is this it?”  And, was it not perhaps easier to be an expert “post event” than a voice before the world fell apart (Nicholas Taleb / Black Swan etc).  I wondered how the world would have viewed us differently if we had been able to anticipate this and speak up before the disaster hit.  I began to wonder what the next crisis was likely to be and what I could do to prevent it.  From there the concept of the Digital Board was born.

How many iterations of the concept did you go through before you launched The Digital Board?

I went through much iteration in my head.  What is the real problem I was trying to solve?  And how would you bring independent thought to this?  Is that even possible?  What is the right approach?  What is the right model?  Luckily, I had some great helpers on the way that helped me find the clarity I needed to bring this concept to life.  I also realised that it wasn’t just the boardroom that needed to change.  CIOs have a difficult job juggling strategic alignment with day-to-day operations (often in highly complex environments), and their role as leaders are often tested.  I cared about this and also the next generation of leaders and how they were going to develop.  The leadership diagnostic tool that I created is designed to help CIOs and the teams beneath them align to engage as leaders much more effectively.  I could bore you for hours on this but maybe the best thing to do is see the tool in action!

Why now and why does this excite you?

Technology capability and the commercial opportunity have never been closer.  Yet, the gap that exists in bringing the gap from the boardroom down into the engine room of the company is as wide as ever.  I am passionate about helping to bridge that gap.  I spend as much time with business leaders as I do technology leaders.  I see the combined passion they have for change.  They may speak a different language at times BUT I am confident (with trust and shared ambition) that we can integrate these ambitions into new growth related opportunity.

Who should think about joining The Digital Board?

We need more people!  Clients will come (and they do).  That’s not meant to sound arrogant or complacent but I have dedicated nearly twenty tears to looking after clients.  They often follow.  But persuading people to leave the comfort of a big name where the phone rings every day to a venture that is new (and different) takes time.  We have a great team around us today but we are ambitious and would love to encourage others to join us.

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