5 Ways to Disrupt “Business As Usual”


3 min read

On Friday 8th November, we were selected as Gold winners of the UK Business Award for Disruptive Business Model — Technology. We are proud to be recognised amongst those shaping the future of business. Here’s a huge “Thank you” to all the Board Intelligence users disrupting the status quo with us.

A Disruptor, according to the Cambridge dictionary, is “a person or thing that prevents something, especially a system, process, or event, from continuing as usual or as expected”. At the turn of the millennium, few would have bet this was required, or even wanted, at the top of any organisation. Yet, 15 years and a few thousand better board meetings later, here are five things we’ve learnt from our own journey about disruption in the boardroom:

1. Look at your board with fresh eyes

Our co-founders, Jen Sundberg and Pippa Begg, were in their twenties when they founded the business and didn’t fit the profile of typical board advisors. They certainly never corrected anyone who assumed they were older! But they believed a company of digital natives could bring something different to the traditional boardroom and make a difference at the highest levels of business.

In 2013, we reinvented a consulting business, developing the first digital platform to enable boards to make better decisions. Board Intelligence was born.

2. Be unafraid to bring new ideas

Habit and convention are the enemy of good board meetings and better decisions. Poorly conceived board papers often lead to box-ticking, groupthink boards — a factor which ultimately contributed to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. That insight was the basis for Board Intelligence’s mission to help boards have better conversations for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Initial due diligence and market research indicated that many non-executives thought what we were attempting to do was a terrible idea. Some argued our product was leading boards into the realm of “second guessing management” by increasing the depth of board discussion (whilst culling the complexity of the board pack) — but we did it anyway, and today the boards of many of the UK’s largest organisations rely on our tools to hold more focused and productive meetings.

3. Think digital — but don’t treat it as enough on its own

Building a digital platform enabled us to disrupt our market by scaling rapidly, offering keenly priced best practice to a wider group. It makes our business model easy to grasp, and it’s why we get to work with FTSE 100 companies through to schools and charities.

But blending that platform with the understanding of the boardroom built from our consultancy experience is key to our market differentiation: not only do we provide an easy and secure way to access the board pack, but we address the quality and effectiveness of the information within it and train clients to embed that change effectively.

4. In the realm of shareholder value creation, think about the bigger picture

Bad governance doesn’t just impact organisations, but also society at large. Recent examples of how it can go terribly wrong include Volkswagen, Carillion, and Patisserie Valerie. The vast majority of directors want to do good — but without the right information, a board is effectively blindfolded. The Board Intelligence platform addresses these concerns, using prompts that help boards focus on their purpose beyond profit.

Drawing on the UK Corporate Governance Code, the platform lets boards rethink their agenda away from backward looking, financially focused discussion. And that rebalanced conversation both evidences and drives better outcomes for shareholders, employees, and society.

5. Don’t compromise on what truly matters

Bucking convention, Jen and Pippa are Co-CEOs both with young children and understand the need for a good balance between work and family life. This ethos is ingrained into our family-centric culture, where both new mothers and fathers enjoy the same amount of leave time.

Couple that with a team of citizens from every continent, alongside agile methods of working, flexible working where we trust colleagues when they have to work from home, and a flat structure, and you get an inclusive environment where everyone can contribute.

There’s no secret sauce to disruption, and these 5 ways are just one recipe amongst many. But the key ingredient is a boardroom willing to change its old ways, and embed that mindset of change into the whole organisation. Hit us up if you’d like to discuss how.

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