In the classic Indian parable of the blind men and the elephant, three blind men come upon an elephant for the first time. Each person feels a different part of the animal and comes to a different conclusion about what it is. The one touching its trunk thinks it is a snake, while the one touching the tail believes it is a rope, and the one touching the leg asks if it is a tree trunk. Only you and I understand the truth — because we have all the information and can see the whole picture.
This story is the essence of information asymmetry, with each individual actor knowing just part of the story, allowing none of them to see the whole picture. All too often this ancient tale repeats itself in the modern boardroom, where the elephant is information and under-informed board directors are left feeling blind because of bad technology and practices.
Why Board Books & Board Portals Fall Short
The traditional board book creates information asymmetry at every turn. It is a static master document that is bulky, out of date the day it is printed, and impossible to reference while traveling. Board directors know only what is on the page, not the circumstances behind it and not the living context of how that information is evolving and interacting with the rest of the company. Where we need an information and communication hub, we get a static document attempting to represent a dynamic set of information. The board book is inherently unsuited to solving for information asymmetry, especially in the modern business environment.
Even board portals, while well-intentioned, solve just part of the problem. Yes, they can house more information in one place, but they fail to imagine how board directors and committees actually work together. Board directors are still stuck behind the 8 ball of information asymmetry.
What if board directors have questions? What about updates, memos, and important contextual information that is best delivered as it happens, not as part of a quarterly or annual information dump? How would a board portal designed to create electronic copies of the same old static quarterly information to answer those questions?
By simply replicating the board book in digital form, board portals leave tons of potential on the table and perpetuate the shortcomings of information asymmetry in the boardroom.
Moving Beyond Information Asymmetry
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Smarter technology holds the key to solving for information asymmetry.
Our work is centered around providing an “un-board portal” that is designed for how board directors actually work. A board intelligence and management platform, not a fancier version of the board book. A single secure hub for all information and communication needed to make fully informed decisions.
Our information asymmetry busting features include:
A “smart library” that houses all relevant institutional knowledge, allowing directors to truly understand the company; what it does, how it does it, and the numbers that show it.
Providing not just the information for the upcoming meeting, but context for that information, i.e. relevant historical, competitive or previously communicated information.
Allowing information to be stored simultaneously in various folders; i.e. by subject and by date, making everything easy to reference regardless of how you search for it.
Streamlining easy access to regularly referenced material, from directories and governance documents to annual plans and financials.
Providing dashboards and balanced scorecards to keep everyone focused on the same things.
Ensuring secure access to meetings & conversations you may have missed, meaning you can keep up without the constraints of time and geography.
It is possible for everyone on the board to see the entire elephant. We simply need to make sure everyone has access to the whole picture so they can make better, fully-informed decisions.
Interested in how Cloud Concinnity® can make a difference for your board? Get in touch.
The Concinnity Company™ provides boards and c-suites with elegant technology and best practices. Cloud Concinnity® is the world’s first integrated board intelligence and management platform.
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