The Innovation Framework
innovation questions

Spark A Board-Level Innovation Conversation

Responsible for innovation? This is the ultimate list of innovation questions for when you speak with your Board.

As an innovation expert, one of your responsibilities may be to ignite a strategic conversation with the Board of Directors that can help move business transformation initiatives forward. Over the years, I’ve developed a list of innovation queries I’ve found helpful when navigating these waters. While you would never ask all of these questions, hopefully, you will find them a useful guide to spark a substantive dialogue.

Innovation Questions for the Board of Directors

  • How is the competitive context evolving?
  • Where are your core competitors gaining share?
  • Who is revolutionizing the industry from the periphery?
  • What are the priority opportunities for the company at this moment?
  • Where is there geographic momentum?
  • Where is the product/service momentum?
  • Who are the emerging customer segments?
  • Which uncertainties could cause disruptions or opportunities for the company?
  • What are the key trends within the industry?
  • Which trends represent the biggest uncertainties?
  • What are the probabilities and implications of alternative scenarios?
  • What are your lagging and leading indicators?
  • Does everyone in the organization have a consistent understanding of the corporate strategy?
  • Do top management and the Board give the same explanation for what kinds of businesses they own and why?
  • Do they have the same understanding of the company’s relative advantage?
  • Do they describe the company’s new growth platforms in similar terms?
  • Are resources dynamically aligned with opportunities?
  • Does the CFO ask challenging questions about the trajectory of even high-profit businesses?
  • Does the company see potential assets for acquisition well before other buyers?
  • Are there regular, non-incremental shifts of resources across businesses and geographies?
  • Do business unit strategies meet the bar of innovation and effectiveness?
  • Do those strategies tap the true source of advantage?
  • Do they embed superior insight and foresight?
  • Have alternatives been evaluated without bias or false inference?
  • Is the Board’s dashboard value-driven and does it cover non-financial metrics?
  • Does management understand which businesses and drivers create value?
  • Do they use metrics that focus on value creation and link value to operational KPIs?
  • Do they include non-financial KPIs (e.g., customer satisfaction)?
  • Who are the 6-8 people who could make a real difference in the organization?
  • Which people are in pivotal roles?
  • Is management optimizing the tradeoffs around risk?
  • What are the potential crises that could occur?
  • What steps has the organization taken to prepare for those situations?
  • Is management ignoring big risks, paying too much to reduce minor risks, or missing high return/low-risk projects?
  • What are some of the limiting assumptions you make about your customers?
  • What kind of assumptions do you make about operations?
  • What are the board’s key imperatives?
  • It’s 2-3 years from today and you’ve imploded (alternative: you’ve been outrun by a competitor), how did it happen and why? Then, what strategic changes should you make now to stop this scenario from happening?

If you enjoyed this post, please check out The Top Questions For Every Innovation Expert, where I share my list of business transformation queries to pose to business leaders and the CEO.

Amber Bezahler

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