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How to work with the Board and be effective at the top table

Bradley de Souza | Aug. 10, 2015
Over the years I've been fortunate enough to work with the most senior executives in an organisation. This often required me having to explain complex concepts to CEOs, senior management and other executives. Technology advances such as the Internet, Cloud computing, Mobility, etc., required careful and considered explanation. It was important to ensure that the potential of such technologies be fully understood by all those involved.

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Over the years I've been fortunate enough to work with the most senior executives in an organisation. This often required me having to explain complex concepts to CEOs, senior management and other executives. Technology advances such as the Internet, Cloud computing, Mobility, etc., required careful and considered explanation. It was important to ensure that the potential of such technologies be fully understood by all those involved.

Technology has increasingly become a key enabler of the modern business and more often it is seen as a differentiator in the marketplace.

Working effectively with senior stakeholders requires careful consideration, preparation and planning. In the property world, the three things to remember when considering a property are location, location, location. A similar mind-set applies when working with the Board: Communication, communication, communication.

COMMUNICATION, Communication, communication

Communicating complex technology concepts such as Cloud computing requires a great deal of understanding. It's as important to know the audience, especially at the individual level, as it is to know the subject matter.

Understanding a person's background can help significantly when communicating complex technical ideas. Giving explanations using relevant analogies is a powerful way of communicating. It leverages what the listener already knows and is familiar with. This can lead to faster engagement and better understanding on the part of the listener.

- Work to demystify

Making the complex simple should be the goal of anyone working with the Board.

Senior executives have the cognitive ability to understand complex matters but often don't have the time to work through the information in a complete enough manner. They are increasingly time poor and rely on good advice to support decision making. Therefore it is paramount to be able to translate complex technology into relevant business language. Furthermore it is important to inform without scaring or confusing people.

One new mobile network I was working on had a problem with a popular business handset. Companies began complaining of network performance and coverage, not being able to make calls or receive emails. I explained to the CEO that the phone wasn't performing well due to it being 'deaf', not able to 'hear' a signal as well as other phone models. The company couldn't blame the manufacturer of the handset, a well-established brand with a great reputation. We were forced to tune and increase network performance in order to accommodate the deficiencies of the handset in question.

Connecting technology change with a change in organisational structure needs to be understood and driven from the top down.

- Awareness of learning styles

It's important to understand how people prefer to be informed, their learning style.

In one group I worked with, the CEO, the COO and the CFO all had different learning styles.

 

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