Setting Up a Shadow Board

The Version 1 Shadow Board

The first Version 1 Shadow Board was set up in January 2020 and after an unprecedented 18 months, the first group is ending its tenure on the board. The Shadow Board was established to give a voice to the younger generation at Version 1, a group who make up a large portion of our own company as well as our customers’ and customers’ customers. With the successful completion of the inaugural Shadow Board, we would like to share our tips for starting your own Shadow Board.

What is a Shadow Board?

At Version 1, the Shadow Board was created to ensure the younger members of the organisation have a means through which they can share their perspectives and ideas with the senior team while learning through experience and regular business updates directly from senior members. The board brings new and diverse ideas to the table as well as allowing members the opportunity to hear about company plans and progress.

The 2020/21 Shadow Board was made up of 13 people under the age of 30 brought together from cross-sections of Version 1. The Shadow Board’s mission was to build something special which was supported by three key pillars: Personal Development, Sharing a Perspective and Demonstrating Impact. The group formed their own project teams, had an impact across the business, met regularly with the Executive Team, and developed skills through the formal mentor programme as well as social learning.

The biggest benefit of the Shadow Board has been the fresh perspective they’ve brought to the work they’ve been involved with – whether it’s people strategy, lead generation, or our approach to agile projects, they’ve brought a collective fresh pair of eyes and new angle to plans that have undoubtedly enhanced our outcomes and end products.
- Louise Lahiff, Director of Strategy, Planning and Communications, Version 1

How to Setup a Shadow Board

1.Understand your “Why”

Identify why you are setting up a Shadow board. It will look different in every organisation but ensure your ‘Why’ reflects the purpose of your organisation and is something that can impact business challenges. Explore the purpose, who should be on it and when and how will it run.

2. Recruit a Diverse Pool that Reflects your “Why”

Go out to the business and open applications based on the selection criteria. Select a group representative of your company’s population including, diverse cultures, varied services, size, and so on.

3. Get the Right Sponsorship Behind it

Have sponsors in place from the start. Ideally, the senior leaders in the company should be the sponsors. If your senior executives are behind it, it’s likely to succeed. Make sure your senior leadership team is proactive and invested in making the most of this group.

4. Empower the Group to Own it:

With some basic structures in place, make sure the board is empowered to figure out their mission, their model, how they will run, how they will have an impact and the general basis upon which they will communicate internally and externally. If it’s led by them from the start, they’ll have ownership and accountability and will use the sponsorship to steer and guide rather than direct the entire thing.

5. Let it Evolve:

A Shadow Board is a new concept with so many possibilities, so don’t get hung up on formal structures, processes, and measurements. Instead, challenge the group to learn, grow, and have fun with it. If the group can evolve, it can bring great energy and enthusiasm.

6. Be Creative

Be open to the impact this group can have on the business. Encourage people from all departments to engage with this group. Let them share ideas and get involved in a variety of initiatives. If you are creative, you can have a big impact in a lot of small ways without taking on too much.

Want to find out more about how your organisation can setup a Shadow Board? Download our handy infographic below for more information and advice on setting up a Shadow Board.

The Shadow Board’s impact has been evident from the start when they helped us design our response to COVID. Since then, their insight and perspectives have been invaluable to the Executive Team as well as many other areas of the business. The Shadow Board has been, and will continue to be, a great asset for Version 1.
- Tom O' Connor, CEO. Version 1

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