The CEO liked information visually. It was important to paint a picture to help explain the issues. This could involve slides, a whiteboard, very visual analogies or a combination of everything.
The COO liked to have a conversation and preferred face to face dialogue as opposed to conversations over the phone. Supporting materials like slides were relegated to second place in favour of question and answer sessions.
The CFO liked the facts and was very direct. There was no room for any kind of speculation in the meetings.
Working with these individuals was straightforward. Dealing with them in a group was the challenge.
It is important to accommodate all learning styles into any group dialogue and manage expectations accordingly. Mastering this approach is key to successfully engaging senior stakeholders in a group, getting commitment to proposals and building trust.
- Build trust one Board member at a time
Building trust is essential to working with a senior stakeholder group. Building trust in any group is an exceptionally difficult task. The group dynamic is very different from the one to one, individual dynamic.
Most people behave differently in a group as opposed to a one on one situation. Egos, politics and other factors exert an influence when trying to establish oneself with the Board.
Individually people are usually less afraid to ask questions. In a group, fear of appearing ignorant or losing face, can prevent people from asking questions. This then stops them from understanding, accepting and engaging in the changes or suggestions required.
Tailoring one on one meetings and presentations to the exact needs of each Board member will then lead to building trust across the whole group.
Once the trust is established with the Board, individually, one can then approach the Board as a whole. It should be easy to anticipate and prepare responses to questions because of the previous interactions had on a one on one basis.
Build the case for change
Before building a case for technology change or transformation, it's critical to understand the business. Only then can technology be aligned to the products and services on offer.
To some, technology can be an unwelcome expense, especially in a business not used to being dependent on it. Not all are able to equate that technology is central to an organisation's productivity, competitiveness and success.
Working with the Board is important when technology change or transformation is required. Long term investment requires continued commitment which needs to be addressed by all. This is most important when systemic change is needed to maintain competitiveness over a longer period. More often than not, changes in technology need to be supported by organisational change, the two should go hand in hand. Connecting technology change with a change in organisational structure needs to be understood and driven from the top down. Only then does it have a good chance of succeeding and delivering the promised benefits.
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