The thrill of governance situations when the management fires the board of directors is always exciting and reveals the tech-world drama on how corporate culture is (not) perceived, aligned, and interacted with the digital culture.

The Sam Altman affair revealed the classic alignment of the Silicon Valley dilemma and mindset.

  • Address the different governance approaches in the IT and Data world
  • lack of strategy, corporate governance, trust
  • total lack of digital corporate culture

It also revealed how internal corporate developments are public news instantly as the developments in Chap GPT, typically only known to employees and management, simultaneously became public as people started posting about it on social media, and the inner workings of a company are in the public domain.

Therefore, if the company does not develop a digital culture, corporate values become more visible, and the lack of digital values is under scrutiny, showcasing the importance of developing, aligning, and implementing digital values with actions in digital technologies.

The Sam Altman situation is a valuable lesson for all corporate leaders. It revealed the critical issues related to the alignment and harmony between the corporate internal practices and the public image. Accountability and transparency are crucial parts of modern corporate culture, and the harmony between public and internal practice is more important than ever.

The biggest tech drama since Apple fired Steve Jobs in 1985 revealed a complete lack of corporate governance and charters.

The corporate condition explains the conflict.

The following questions were raised in five hectic days as the conflict originated in a serious governance dilemma.

  • How could a board fire the superstar of the tech world?
  • How could a board risk the colossal values created in Open AI?
  • How can the minority shareholder and a partner, Microsoft, rebel against the board and rehire Sam?
  • Why did three out of four members of the board resign?

The answer to the above questions is that the digital and tech world is developing not only the components of artificial intelligence but also the entire field of digitization and data and IT transformation. Therefore, the corporate digital culture elements are at the core of this crucial governance development, implementation, execution, and monitoring.

The second answer is that Open AI is not a typical company as a commercial enterprise in the traditional sense. Open AI promotes digital intelligence to help humanity and focuses on making a positive human difference.

The answers also revealed that companies involved in data transformation and digitization must address the following questions:

  • What are the governance consequences if the company is limited by the need to create a financial return and is free of financial obligations?
  • How do we develop and control the new technology concerning the company’s mission?
  • What resources are needed to develop AI and the entire digitization and data transformation spectrum, computing power, attracting talent, and capital?
  • Can the organization stick to the original mission and vision as all companies are in the IT and Data business instead of financial institutions or the medical or shipping business?
  • How to address the dilemma related to disagreement on the strategic direction, scale and development of the digital culture
  • Address the risks of AI, digitization, and data transformation.

In many of our monthly global events in 2024, we will address these issues and guide the board and management in developing a robust digital culture with careful planning and thoughtful actions, using a digital strategy as the foundation of a robust digital culture. How can the directors and management provide direction and clarity if technology is central to achieving business goals? For the complete list of events, see here