In response to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19, the UAE took major strides to put into effect a wave of measures to introduce a fresh digital leadership. The structural changes included the creation of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology, the appointment of a Head of Cybersecurity for the government, and the migration of 50 per cent of government service centres to complete digital portals within two years. The latter, in particular, has deeper and much more foresighted goals tied to it than what appeared from the surface.

What looks like a change in administrative structure is actually the UAE’s response to the dramatic changes in the world’s social and economic climate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The changes have been implied to enable the creation of a highly agile, digitally advanced, and responsive government that can lead with empathy, innovation, and creativity in post-pandemic times.

On the5th July of 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the aforementioned changes in the UAE government.

It is no secret that the UAE’s achievements in the domain of innovation and creativity are a source of inspiration for the entire world.The UAE government’s new structure underscores the importance of innovation in business excellence, which taught us the value of the adage that every business leader and board director must keep in mind and embrace: nothing ages faster than the future. The digital wave that is changing the way we work and live today leads to amazing transformations, so much so, business leaders must be prepared for an unpredictable future where a number of current jobs will be made redundant and in which the way we work will be radically different, and the expectations of our customers will be dramatically changed from what they are today.

With such an inspiring environment for private enterprises to flourish and prosper, future-proofing businesses and creating high-performance boards come as a natural fit to the ambitions of this great nation that focuses on attracting talent and capital from all around the world.

While the leadership shows us the roadmap to progress, there is much for us in private business to do; that is why I would like to set this discussion in motion with a direct question: Are we, as business leaders, prepared for the future? Have you succeeded in future-proofing your business for sustained growth?

These questions are not new, but the truth is that many businesses do not see beyond the immediate challenges. As we all know, we live in an unprecedented era of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It is what social scientists call aVUCA world, a world where we need to look beyond the immediate and plan for the future so that we are one step ahead in the game, especially in the fast-evolving digital economy of today.

  

So, future-proofing your business means ensuring that you are ready for the speed of change and staying ahead of the curve through consistent innovation. The key is to make yourself, as an organisation, more flexible, agile, and relevant across every touchpoint and covering every employee,

Let us remember that the best practices, which guided boards in the past, are not relevant anymore. While transparency and corporate governance — the fundamental pillars of any business —continue to be relevant, it is important to know that boards must look at their responsibilities and roles from a very different viewpoint: the perspective of a changed stakeholder.

A strong board that is equipped to take on the challenges of the future is one that has individuals who can work effectively as team members as well as individual contributors. In fact, that is one of the fundamental priorities in the corporate governance protocols at Azizi Developments. We have consistently focused on building a leadership team that is based on absolute meritocracy. We look at individuals who can add consistent value to our organisation as team players and individually. Here are a few lessons that we’ve learnt over time and that can help future-proof your business:

· Half your board meeting should be invested on discussing strategy in response to a market trend.

· Opportunities that are not directly related to financial performance must be explored. For example, one question I ask every board member on my team is ‘What do you believe is the purpose of our organisation?’ Defining your purpose helps you scale new frontiers.

· Always look for innovative ways to do business; the saying ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’  doesn’t apply anymore.

· Assessments from experts from outside your organisation must be considered to address your core team on a regular basis so as to see things from a fresh perspective.

· Always ask yourself if you are doing the right thing to help create value. 

Honest answers to all these questions will take you to new heights of success in a world that is ever-changing. Innovateor risk becoming irrelevant.