Advisory Boards are not a very common phenomenon that I have come across. However, a well formed Advisory Board can be extremely helpful to most top level executives.
First, I am not talking about Executive Boards – that is pretty much the domain of the CEOs. And I am not talking about Customer Advisory Boards either. If you are a C-level executive (but not CEO), I am talking about forming your own external advisory board formed from luminaries in your industries that you can trust and respect.
Having had twice formed such boards for myself in the past and having been in two such boards myself, here are my observations:
1. As I observed before, this is NOT a common practice. I think that is a pity.
2. Not all executives are equally adept in leveraging such a board.
3. It is a very cheap way of getting access to a lot of talent. You can pretty much get this done by a few flight tickets, hotel bills and lunch/dinner checks. If you are on a shoestring budget, chances are you can pick executives from your local city for this.
4. Such a board gives you the following:
4a. Great access to you and your operating team to a lot of experience and talent from outside. Chances are they have face some of your challenges that you are facing.
4b. It is a great sounding board. Outside of your board meetings, you or your team can feel comfortable getting some quick feedback.
4c. Great networking opportunity. You get access to more people – perhaps some of them can become your customer some day, some may join you in your company some day.
4d. Finally, my experience is that your team will find the whole exercise innovative and highly energized. They would love the exposure.
5. What to sell potential board members on – OR – what the board members get from this:
5a. Networking opportunity. They get a chance to meet perhaps future customers, future employer or future employees.
5b. Great Resume Value – especially if you company has a reasonable brnad name in the market, this would be great to get on their resumes.
The best way to utilize these boards are to pose certain business challenges you have at a reasonable abstract level and see what the various learnings have been.
So far, my experience has been very positive on this.
Have you any history of having tried this or being part of such a board. I would love to hear about your experience.