OnBoard Co-Founder and CEO Paroon Chadha explains how a board can serve as a calming presence, and how to conduct meetings.
At the heart of Italy’s revered basilicas is a sacred place — the sanctum sanctorum, or, in Latin, the “holy of holies.” In Hindi, it’s called garbhagriha, meaning “enclosed house” or “inner shrine.”
Across traditions, the characteristics of this special space are the same: calm, quiet, peaceful.
OnBoard CEO Paroon Chadha has his own inner sanctum within his home — and he maintains that every business should have one, too. In fact, he sees the “inner sanctum” of a business as the role of the board.
“Think of it like a calming corner,” he said. “In my house, it’s where I go to meditate. Often a board or a chairperson doesn’t create that space. And if you don’t create that space, then you can still get by, you just won’t get the best results.”
A calm inner sanctum can help businesses navigate turbulent times — a scenario companies know well due to the recent pandemic and today’s recession. When you cultivate a board that functions as your company’s calm center, you can approach challenges with a clear head and executive alignment.
We sat down with Paroon to talk about how to create a well-functioning, inner-sanctum-worthy board. It comes down to a few things:
- Creating the perfect board meeting
- Investing in the right technology to optimize your systems
- The courage to change when needed
The 3 Types of Board Meetings
The first hallmark of stability is to close the gap between efficient and inefficient board meetings. The more efficient your board meetings are, the more productive your board — and company — will be.
In a recent Fortune article about board tech, Paroon explains that the life of a board meeting goes through 3 phases:
The board meeting you planned
- The board meeting you had
- The board meeting you *wished* you had
It’s important to reflect on each facet of a board meeting’s trajectory so you can optimize moving forward with the next agenda.
1. The Board Meeting You Planned
When planning a board meeting, there may be certain topics that need to be addressed and executive leaders or invited speakers who are preparing to present. You most often have the agenda planned in advance with speakers, important topics and updates, approved by your Nom-Gov chair. In your mind, there’s an idea of how the meeting will go — ideally, on track and according to plan.
2. The Board Meeting You Have
Best-laid plans in life often go astray, and the same is true with board meetings. Paroon likens it to giving a speech: You may write it out word for word and rehearse it many times, but there’s typically a gap between what you planned to say and what you said.
In the same way, even the most labor-intensive board agenda will veer from the planned path.
Topics get brought up that weren’t on the schedule.
One person may have a lot to say and take up time meant for another speaker.
Rabbit trails and distractions pop up that take up precious meeting time.
Then suddenly, the meeting is over and you’re left to have follow-up conversations. Sometimes, important topics come up in these side conversations that really should have been brought up in the meeting. With no clear way to consolidate these conversations, important information is easily lost.
3. The Board Meeting You Should Have Had
Hindsight is 20/20, and in the aftermath of a meeting it’s easy to visualize what could have been.
“After the board meeting, you might think, ‘I spent more time than I wanted to on Topic A,’” Paroon says. “Or, a presenter said something that sparked conversation on Topic B, and the board wanted to go there — I should have left more time for that or tackled Topic B first.”
It’s important to recognize if you’re frequently running out of time, getting derailed by new topics and spending most of your time in the meeting trying to get back on track.
The Perfect Board Meeting
With board tech like OnBoard, Paroon’s goal is to bridge the gap between the board meeting you planned and the board meeting you have.
“It’s our goal to help committees have the meetings they should have had the first time,” he says.
So what does the ideal board meeting look like — if such a thing exists? For Paroon, an ideal board meeting has the following characteristics:
- The intended balance of short- and long-term discussions
- A well-organized agenda
- A conversation where everyone contributes
- Clarity of actionable next steps
Real-time analytics and a collaborative platform help board committees get there.
“Eventually, optimizing your board meetings is not a question of getting by. It’s a question of: Can the governance structure of a company become a source of scale and growth?” Paroon says.
The answer lies in how well your governance structure is optimizing the right tools to be constantly improving — a ripple effect that will impact the entire organization.
Want to learn more? Watch for the second part of our interview with Paroon, “9 Ways You Can Use Tech to Achieve High Performance in the Boardroom and Optimize Your Board Governance.”
About The Author
- Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.
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