Decision-making is in Rolf Watter’s DNA: Throughout his career, he believes he has been involved in ‘more than 5000 decisions’ at board level. As a director in major Swiss listed companies such as Zurich Insurance Group, Syngenta and Nobel Biocare, he participated in high-level decisions and realised that a good decision requires deep knowledge of how to run efficient meetings.
Today, Rolf is the Chairman of PostFinance AG Board of Directors, and member of several other boards. So, let us learn from him how to make better decisions.
Rolf Watter realised early that the high complexity of today’s business environment requires business leaders to be fully prepared before making important decisions. And this was one of the main reasons why he became an early adopter of Sherpany, the meeting management software.
Today, Sherpany allows him to have all meeting documents accessible at all time and to focus on the most important issues. ‘The more information there is, the more important it becomes to select the relevant factors. Once they are agreed upon, decisions follow easily’. As a result, Rolf Watter is able to prepare for meetings much more efficiently thanks to the Sherpany software, which saves him up to 20% of his individual preparation time for a meeting.
‘The key is to have all relevant information available’
Prof. Dr. iur. Rolf Watter, Chairman of the PostFinance AG Board of Directors and member of several other boards.
Sherpany supported Rolf Watter establishing a more agile meeting culture and this led to positive effects on the decision-making process. He especially highlights the enhanced possibility to communicate on agenda topics with board colleagues and management ahead of the meeting. Sherpany Discours® allows meeting attendees to anticipate discussions, engage in conversations, and ask for clarification before the meeting even starts. This allows for substantial time-savings during the meeting. ‘The idea is not to solve all issues via this tool, but to ensure that all relevant information is at the board’s disposal’, says Watter. This deep preparation on topics also allows him to realise when additional expertise is needed: This might for instance mean that he invites additional management members to the meeting. The results of a more agile meeting culture and better communication were soon visible: ‘We can now address all board questions much more efficiently’.
Watter sees agility in meetings as ‘a very important topic!’ and emphasises that a more agile meeting preparation eventually ‘improves the decision quality’ and leads to more productive meetings: ‘Productivity has also increased because the meeting materials can be updated in an easy manner’. This helps leaders to stay ahead of business challenges and capitalise on new opportunities. By using a digital tool, business leaders also take full responsibility as role models for digital transformation. ‘A paper-based board cannot credibly discuss digital issues unless it attempts to move as much of its own work to the digital world.’
A further step of reaching meeting agility is to ensure the timely execution of a decision. Watter: ‘It is then, of course, key for the chairman and the board secretary to actually schedule the same agenda item in the next meeting, so that the entire board can assess what has been done’. Ultimately, the timely execution of a well-prepared decision is one of the end goals of agile meetings. Thus, an agile meeting can only be considered successful if all its decisions are executed correctly and on time. It is up to the business leaders to delegate tasks and track the success of every decision.
Seeing the positive effects agility in meetings has on the overall outcome of a meeting, Rolf Watter recognises great potential for all leadership teams to improve their meeting processes. He has no doubt that management could also profit from better communication and efficiency gains during the meeting process. In order to strive in today’s complex business environment, it is essential for every organisation to embrace an agile meeting culture.
About Rolf Watter
Prof. Dr. iur. Rolf Watter is is an award-winning lawyer in M&A transactions with additional expertise in corporate governance and capital market transactions. He works as law professor at the University of Zürich and is partner at the renowned Swiss law firm Bär & Karrer. Watter is currently Chairman of the Board of Directors of PostFinance AG and member of several other boards (Ceva Logistics AG, Aryzta AG, Faber-Castell AG, and AP Alternative Portfolio AG). Watter estimates that he was part of considerably more than 5000 decisions taken at board level. One of his key learnings is that decisions must be made as efficiently as possible.
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