Chairman of the message board

Chairman of the message board

Chief executive officers are knowledge workers too. A new tool from 80/20 Software called Leaders Online has applied the principles of KM to the everyday working lives of executives and board members.

The application applies robust records management principles to documents produced by executives, board members and secretaries, according to the company. This information can then be held securely so that it only flows down to subordinates in the organisational flowchart when necessary.

”The very top end of corporations have been built on the traditional form of collaboration, which is formal meetings,” said Mark Ross, CEO of 80/20 Software. “Times are set, formal agendas are prepared, and there is a lot of material, such as minutes and actions. A lot of knowledge is encapsulated in those materials. Some might argue that some of the highest-level knowledge resides in the top end of the organisation, but executives have shied away from technology. Accessing that material has been quite difficult, because it has been paper-based.”

The application, like 80/20’s previous document management application, is built on top of existing messaging infrastructure, with support available for Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes/Domino and IBM DB/2 environments. The application uses repositories in the messaging infrastructure to store documents created in the system.


Leaders Online has both a defensive and positive role in modern companies. While executives can benefit from productivity gains in minimising paperwork and red tape, the spectre of recent scandals such as those in Enron and Worldcom have caused executives to become more wary of rules for corporate governance. The application provides a transparency of process and data, according to Mr Ross.

”One of the issues in corporate governance is, ‘did the board know what was happening, could it see through the information being presented to them?’ Paper is one of worst vehicles to do that. If you send a stack of paper 10 feet tall, the chance of reading through and understanding it is not great,” he said.

Of course, some executives might not want that level of transparency for their decision-making - another aspect of the old problem in KM of cultural intransigence. Mr Ross said that far from changing existing processes, Leaders Online actually helped an organisationÕs board in fulfilling its statutory duty as a peer review panel.

”The reason you have peer review is to try to have processes in the business such that the review processes are being done diligently, and will get to the bottom of any indiscretions,” he said. “It’s not a magic wand for corporate governance, but it is assisting business processes to be more intelligent, efficient and use information more effectively.”

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