Board Oversight: Forming an Innovation & Technology Committee

Episode Summary

As today’s business landscape continues to shift, we see more boards forming new, strategically focused committees outside the big three (Audit, Compensation, Nominating & Governance). Although it goes by many names, the Technology Committee has become one of the more popular new committees—no big surprise as technology becomes an integral part of any company’s strategic plan.

In this episode, Colleen Birdnow Brown, board member with TrueBlue, Inc. and chair of the Innovation & Technology Committee, joins host TK Kerstetter to discuss why this particular committee was formed, what it oversees, and how it communicates with management.

“We focus pretty simply on cybersecurity, on innovation, and on technology. Those are our three charges,” said Brown, although she explains that the committee doesn’t operate alone. “Audit has part of the risk [associated] with cyber. Innovation certainly comes up through the operating units. So we overlap a lot of committees, but what it does is causes us to focus on those three key areas.”

With ample experience chairing board committees, Brown explains how chairing the Innovation & Technology Committee is both similar to and different than chairing traditional committees like Audit or Compensation. She also explains how the committee works with management.

The most important thing about that committee is not the technology, but the innovation…That was a big eye-opener for me because that’s hard when you’re not in control of it. Asking [questions of management like]: What are you innovating lately? How is this different? Why don’t we just buy it off the shelf?…We’re at that critical crossroads. If you’re not looking at innovation at a board level…[then the company] is probably not innovating.
— Colleen Birdnow Brown, Board Member, TrueBlue, Inc.