Takeaways from Better Boards conference 2018

The Better Boards conference 2018 was on the theme of customer-centric governance. Inevitably, as a conference for not for profit boards, there was also broader discussion about boardJane Arnott presenting at Better Boards Conference 2018  performance and behaviours. Here’s our top takeaways from Better Boards conference 2018

Customer centricity

  1. Employee experience determines customer experience: a recurring theme from conference speakers (including our own session) was that employee engagement is the pre-requisite for high quality customer experience. Unhappy, uncommitted, disengaged employees cannot deliver high quality customer interactions. This message was neatly summarised by Charles Weiser of Optus and Campbell Page “Your customer experience can never be higher than your employee experience”.

  1. There are reality – or perception – gaps in customer engagement. These apply in two contexts. The first is that organisations’ understanding of what customers feel or think is rarely an accurate reflection of what they actually think – our perceptions are laden with assumptions, generalisations or misunderstandings. The second is that customers themselves will say one thing, but do something else. This is why survey results can be very unreliable. Both Charles Weiser and Amantha Imber (Inventium) raised this issue. Which leads us to….
  1. Observe rather than ask: you will learn more from observing what customers do, than simply asking them what they think. Observation will tell you more about customer behaviours and frustrations, and then you can test your thinking or new ideas by experimentation – for example by testing your minimum viable product – rather than by surveys or focus groups. Again, this was a message echoed by both Amantha Imber and Charles Weiser.


Board and leadership behaviours


  1. Shadow values: we talk about our explicit organisation values, but we also have shadow values that define the way we work in our organisations, but may not be openly discussed. These can be positive – such as a passion for our work – but they can also be negative, such as unwritten rules that drive internal, unhealthy competition between teams. It’s important to surface and address the shadow values in order to truly deliver cultural change (David Burfoot, The Ethics Centre).
  1. Listening: Professor Grace McCarthy (University of Woolongong) led us through an exercise in uninterrupted listening, with one person sharing a problem or challenge and the other listening, and perhaps paraphrasing, without interrupting or advising. It was a powerful demonstration of how we can solve our own problems, if we simply have time to think them through by verbalising them.
  1. 72 hour rule: Malcolm Dix of Bullshift asked us if we often have ‘conversations in our head’ when we think through all the things that we should have said, or would like to say, but we never actually verbalise. He suggested the ’72 hour rule’ – if you’ve been brooding on an issue for three days, move the conversation from your head to the outside world and actually address the issue with the person in question.
  1. Decision fatigue: Amantha Imber (Inventium) took on poll on when we made most of our important decisions, and then introduced us to the concept of decision fatigue, likening our decision making capability to a battery that is charged overnight, but runs down during the day, leading to us making thoughtful decisions in the morning, but selecting the easiest option as the day progresses. Her advice: make all your important decisions in the morning. Now that will be a challenge for all those boards that meet in the evening…

CBB works with not for profits on organisational culture, employee behaviours and customer experience.  If you’d like to know more about how CBB can help you built an engaged, customer-centric workforce, contact Jane Arnott, General Manager Consulting and Business Services.


Jane Arnott
General Manager, Consulting and Business Services
Email: jarnott@cbb.com.au
Phone: 1300 284 364