According to Wikipedia, “A shadow board is a device for organizing a set of tools; the board defines where particular tools should be placed when they are not in use.” The image on the right is an example of a shadow board –>
For organizations, however, a “shadow board” is a new term with a slightly different meaning: It’s defined as “a group of age-diverse employees, regardless of level, that mirrors the traditional board of directors and embodies true diversity of thought, can offer an organized remedy to address both challenges” (Forbes, 2019).
The purpose? Great question. To leverage the younger groups’ insights and to diversify the perspectives that executives are exposed to;
And, it looks like they seem to actually work. In 2015, Gucci underwent a comprehensive transformation that made the company more relevant to today’s marketplace. Gucci created a shadow board composed of Millennials who, since 2015, have met regularly with the senior team. The board talks through issues that the executive committee is focused on and their insights often serve as a “wakeup call for executives”. Since implementation, Gucci’s sales have grown 136%, a growth largely by the success of both its internet and digital strategies.
What are the keys to success of an organization “shadow board”?
- Look beyond the “high-potential” group: Millennials and Gen Z’ers dig open-application processes, and doing so will likely create a more diverse cohort and discover hidden talent.
- Make it a CEO-sponsored program: In order to ensure success and maximum impact, it needs to have sign-off and championship from leadership.
- Keep evaluating and iterating: Like everything we’ve learned this semester, evaluation and iteration is critical.