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CIO White Paper " Working With The Board"


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Thought Leadership - CIO White Paper

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CIO White Paper " Working With The Board"

  1. 1. CIO Breakfast Seminars Working with the Board 28 and 29 August 2008 Prepared by: Paul Rush CIO Practice Leader Talent2 Pty Ltd t: +61 2 9087 6257 e:
  2. 2. Table of Contents 1 Introduction 3 2 Preparation and Information 4 3 The Board 4 4 Influence and Stakeholder Management 5 5 Communication and Presentation 5 6 Agenda and Outcomes 6 7 Credibility 6 8 Attendees 7 Attachment: Gartner Working with the Board PowerPoint Presentation Breakfast Seminars: Working with the Board 2 © 2008 Talent2 International Limited
  3. 3. 1 Introduction The previous CIO Breakfast Forum focused on the notion of a ‘Trust Tax’ and the CIO relationship. This forum aimed to expand upon that premise to focus on the relationship between the CIO and the board, specifically how CIOs can improve their board interaction. “Each interaction with the board of directors is an opportunity to demonstrate that you are a business leader, or reveal that you are not. Boards exert significant influence over the enterprise on behalf of shareholders and stakeholders. As board interest in IT grows, CIOs must master the critical skill of interacting well with board members”. (Gartner EXP Premier Report July 2006 ‘Working with the Board of Directors’) This event was well supported; receiving the most significant contribution to date and serving as testament to the following that this Talent2 forum now commands. The information collated during these discussions can only be as good as the individuals that attend and as such I would personally like to thank those who participated for their continued support. I look forward to hosting the next CIO Breakfast Forum. We would also like to extend a very big thank you to Mary Ann Maxwell from Gartner for facilitating this discussion, as well as the CIO community, without which these discussions and the subsequent knowledge sharing would not be possible. For those of you who are new to this white paper series, we capture information from the discussion and collate the data and commentary into this summarised format. The benefit to you is that this is a real discussion from a broad spectrum of the CIO community and does not draw on any other material; making it both current and relevant. We hope this paper offers some insight; please feel free to pass it on to others that may be interested in the topic and the discussion findings. Breakfast Seminars: Working with the Board 3 © 2008 Talent2 International Limited
  4. 4. 2 Preparation and Information The board’s focus is on the relationship between business strategy and IT strategy. It was agreed that in most instances the board doesn’t really care about technology per se, and they don’t understand it. Make sure you understand the full board agenda (not just your piece within the broader discussion) and have undertaken sufficient research; often this will be in-depth, especially if you are new to the business or lack detailed understanding of the business drivers. It is wise to have also undertaken research on the individual members of the board – what they have achieved in their ‘past lives’, what do they care about now and who might play what role (i.e. Good cop/bad cop/inquisitor/power broker etc). It is important to remember that your preparation is not just about you being ready, but also about the other parties being thoroughly prepared so you can walk away with an outcome. Remember the importance of pre-submission of information or preparatory meetings. Ensure that there are no surprises - especially for the CEO whose backing you have already secured! 3 The Board Endeavour to understand the make up of the board members including their history, their style and their interests - you need to build trust with them. Try to get an idea of their capacity to absorb technical information; work out who the most IT advanced members are around the table and also who the potential detractors are. Board members are often busy and live plural lives; they travel a lot and their time is precious. A really good suggestion to help them and indeed build credibility for CIOs is to suggest an intranet style board website, where the board members can exchange and review information. This is more common in the US at present but is something that will no doubt gain momentum here over time. This is a great tool for educating the board. The focus of directors has changed over time and contemporary legislation requires boards to take on a greater degree of responsibility. The consequences for CIOs are mostly related to risk; this is something you have to be absolutely clear about when talking with boards. The obligation of the board of directors from an IT perspective is focussed squarely on risk and governance issues. You will need to show a balance between opportunity and risk with regard to IT projects and the associated expenditure. Don’t be tempted to answer questions from the board on risk with a simple “yes”. Talk about the facts and give your view on risk, even if asked what appears to be a simple question (such as “Will it work?”). New members to the board can dramatically change the dynamic of the board meeting. They will look to make an impression and may come equipped with technical know-how. Be prepared to listen but also to stay with the agenda. Breakfast Seminars: Working with the Board 4 © 2008 Talent2 International Limited
  5. 5. Remember the board are looking at you as a board member and part of the team - not as ‘The IT Guy‘. This should put you in the right frame of mind from a presentation and engagement perspective. The language of IT is not the language of the board, and this is not an educational opportunity. 4 Influence and Stakeholder Management Your relationships with the board are built up over time. It is imperative you have already wooed your sponsors and stakeholders prior to any board meeting or vital steering committee agenda item. Be sure you have picked the right moment to push your key initiatives across the line. Make it your business to attend board social events with individuals as well as the broader business community. Set your agenda over time so that when you need to ask for the money you have already arranged your sponsorship. 5 Communication and Presentation Often the language of IT is not the language of the board – although it is worth noting that we all agreed the role of the CIO has changed significantly in the last five years, helping to bridge this traditional gap. Any educational material required by the board should be included in your pre-submitted board paper, not as part of your actual board presentation. Ensure you stick to the agenda; try not to stray into new and unprepared ground. It is not your job to surprise the board. If you don’t know the answer or lack the detailed information to answer specific questions, let the board know you will get back to them with the required information and direction and ensure you give them an exact timeframe. Remember, you may not be the first presenter, and the discussion or the board’s mindset may have shifted prior to your area; be prepared to go with the flow. You may have to rethink your original strategy or indeed ‘park’ your agenda. The worst thing you can do is try and force your agenda on a board that clearly has other priorities – pick the right time and resist the temptation to emphasise your goals to the detriment of the board’s interest. It is important that your communication reflects the value you can add to the board discussion, the individual stakeholders and the broader business. Keep to your allotted time. It is the imperative not to go over your time limit – which is likely to be up to 15 minutes (from the actual presentation) at an absolute maximum. Breakfast Seminars: Working with the Board 5 © 2008 Talent2 International Limited
  6. 6. One of the most common problems that CIOs have had with the actual presentation is ‘Death by PowerPoint’ – this is a major ‘no no’. Stick to key slides that reflect your message and the outcome you are seeking. Remember that your CEO is your key stakeholder and supporter, so work with him/her both prior and during to make sure you do not trip yourself up. Written documentation is another chance for you to excel or indeed fall short. Ensure that the written documentation does not contain too many acronyms and talks specifically to real business outcomes. 6 Agenda and Outcomes Make sure you are clear about your agenda for the board, particularly with regard to board meetings. Ensure you have support from the CEO and other key stakeholders, and that this support aligns with your outcomes. Where possible try to avoid getting caught up in individual agendas and battles around the table! It can be very easy to take sides; you have to stand outside of the politics and present a robust and accurate argument. Think ‘round table’, not ‘square table’. We discussed the importance of adhering to a hierarchy of needs – so in this context make sure your focus is on the things that are important to the business (i.e. keeping the ‘lights on’ first before you turn your attention to the NextGen solution). The opportunity for you as a CIO to get your agenda over the line will often depend on the business lifecycle. Make sure you understand where your business is staged in that lifecycle and tailor your goals accordingly. If you are out of step with the business you will get shot down! 7 Credibility You have attained the role of CIO because you have demonstrated your worth previously and have credibility at this level. Take an active interest in the business. This may take time but you can enhance your effectiveness and visibility with the Executive team and ensure their continued support in you. You can ultimately obtain the role of ‘Trusted Advisor’. Style is important. At the end of the day you are a valued member of the leadership team - and this is your opportunity to present your own unique style. You will need to demonstrate that you can lead the technology process through whatever environment presents itself. The board’s confidence in you will be hard wired to your tenure and your opportunity to strategically shape the future direction of your business. Breakfast Seminars: Working with the Board 6 © 2008 Talent2 International Limited
  7. 7. 8 Attendees Name Company Name Company Mary Ann Maxwell Gartner John Croker Wattyl Steve Lindsay Citigroup Garry Whatley Corporate Express Hendrik Schuszler Consultant Silvia Williams Talent2 Sarv Girn Westpac Paul Eriksson NSW Racing Nick Haigh Young & Rubicam Brands Damian Cook Deloitte Stuart McDonald Macquarie Telecom Phil Baxter Consultant Chris Hatzidis Consultant Neil Whiteing IAG Colin Cunningham Consultant Umesh Chauhan Talent2 Tony Ward Consultant John Keay Consultant Tony Yortis Sinclair Knight Merz Craig Dower Avanade Tony Talbot Dairy Farmers Keith Roscarel Consultant Hemant Kogekar Consultant Geoff Whytcross Talent2 Graham Owen Hawker Pacific Brian Banks TCS Claire Swaffield Sydney Opera House Anthony Claridge Resmed Alan Perkins Altium Ian Gibson CitiStreet Mick Campbell Ramsay Healthcare Andrew Vaughan Talent2 Andrew Friar Westpac Tim Cope Consultant Scott Ashhurst St George Bank Stephen Kibble Tata Chris Holmes Allens Arthur Robinson Richard Deck Luxotica Tim Catley Sydney Water Corp Maurice Hibbert Hamilton Island Breakfast Seminars: Working with the Board 7 © 2008 Talent2 International Limited
  8. 8. Always remember the BOARD guidelines When working with the board be: Brief Open Accurate Relevant Diplomatic CIOs can achieve this by following a proven process… Follow a step by step process to increase your influence with the board Excel at Prepare for Build Increase board board Board-level CIO meetings interactions acumen Influence New CIO: 6-12 Maximizing CIO Apply prepare and excel steps months influence takes at every board meeting to Experienced CIO 1-3 years ensure success in new enterprise: 3-6 months
  9. 9. Few boards have extensive IT expertise “Unless they have a technologist on the board as an advisor or a full board member, what they’re really going to want to know is: Tell me how you’re going to help the business?” — John Viglione Vice President and CTO, Vertex Lack of technical savvy on the board is not a major impediment to successful CIO- board interactions. CIOs who successfully interact with the board demonstrate that they are true business leaders who just happen to be in charge of IT. How can CIOs prepare for board interactions? What does the board expect of IT? Who are the individual directors? Prepare for What does the board agenda look like? board What is their preferred communication interactions style? What is the role of the IT department in preparing for board interactions? “Corporate boards are increasingly aware of how dependent their companies have become on IT, and they are paying closer attention than ever before to its workings, even more so than they did during Y2K” Richard Nolan, business professor, University of Washington.
  10. 10. How can CIOs excel at each board meeting? What should the presentation look like? What am I trying to accomplish during the Excel at board meeting? board Which communication styles work most meetings effectively? How do I know if I am doing well during the board meeting? “Know when to shut up. Preferably after they’ve said yes.” Mike Williams, CIO, DCMA What is the desired outcome of the presentation or interaction? There are a limited number of subjects for board interactions: Inform – Updates, progress against goals, assessments. Are you delivering good or bad news? Request – Funding, resources, or time. How much do you need and when? What is the expected benefit to the enterprise? Alert – Something has gone wrong. Who is impacted? How and when will it be remediated? Do your key messages drive towards the desired outcome? Is the desired result or outcome clearly stated?
  11. 11. Recommendations CIOs who are the most successful in working with the board demonstrate that they are business leaders first, technology leaders second. Develop a board-aligned IT organization and board relevant content. Prepare extensively for board interactions but communicate succinctly for maximum impact. Be aware of the risks as well as the benefits of working with the board and manage both ends of the spectrum. Increase your influence with the board over time by expanding your relevance and range of enterprise responsibilities.