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Boards do care about quality – even if they don’t know it yet

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Published: 18 Jul 2017

The CQI’s second Corporate Connect event, presented by Board Intelligence, reveals how to get quality on the board’s agenda.

Getting boardroom attention is a perennial challenge for the quality profession and one that the CQI has dedicated itself to tackling.

That’s why we brought together senior quality professionals from CQI Corporate Partners including Lloyd’s Register, Raytheon and NG Bailey at our latest Corporate Connect in London on Wednesday, to learn how to get quality on the board’s agenda.

It’s not as if boards don’t care about quality and how it affects their business, said the CQI’s acting CEO, Vincent Desmond, how could they not? So, if the quality profession has had difficulty getting traction with boards, “it’s our problem, not theirs”.

On hand to give advice on how to change this was Natasha Szczepanik of Board Intelligence, who specialises in how to influence the C-suite.

The right information, presented in the right way, can “fundamentally change the dynamic” in a board, said Szczepanik. But board members often feel they’re not getting this.

Despite the vast “data dump” of information that is thrown at them, many boards “feel they are blindfolded,” she said. “They don’t know what they don’t know.”

Recent research conducted by Board Intelligence and Cambridge Judge Business School found that the average length of a board pack for a FTSE 100 company is 288 pages – about nine hours’ reading. But the average length of time a board member spends reading their copy is just three hours.

“When we’re presenting to boards hundreds of pages of material in quite short timeframes, it’s almost unfeasible that they’ll be able to read it,” said Szczepanik. “So, there’s quite a big question around how much information can they digest and are they getting the right information?”

Szczepanik provided the group with a list of practical guidelines to help them achieve clarity and success in communications with board members.

Whether it’s communicating directly with the board or educating the wider business on the importance of governance, assurance and improvement, the CQI’s Vincent Desmond said quality professionals must learn “to speak the language of business, not the language of quality”.

Top tips for boardroom engagement

CQI and IRCA members can read the full report of the event, including a slideshow pack and vital tips for communicating with the board, only in the upcoming Networks email.

Words: Robert Bain

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