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Management Resource Library

Get Thee Some Advisors

King Arthur had his Knights of the Round Table. Shouldn't you have a similar team of sage advisors?

Most business owners have an aversion towards a formal board of directors and in today's litigious society, formal board members are harder to entice. But there is an attractive alternative. It's called an Advisory Board. The informality and flexibility give it it's power. Here are some suggestions to consider in the formation and continuance of such a group.

  • Expand your network. You can expand your organizational reach by leveraging the talent and connections of a diverse group of advisory board members.
  • Choose with care. As you assemble the advisory team focus on the areas you need to bolster expertise. Do you need technical experts for legal, accounting, engineering, banking, marketing or other important advice? Do you want key customers, prospects, industry experts, community leaders, or collegiate experts on your team? Should you engage a facilitator for the sessions?
  • It's usually economical. Many candidates are flattered to serve and can be enticed with a warm invitation for assistance. You should be prepared to cover meeting expenses and a modest stipend can go a long way towards fostering a motivated participant.
  • Launch wisely. Think through the role you wish for your advisory team. Clarify their role as well as yours at the inception of the process. It sets the proper tone and increases the likelihood of a productive and pleasant relationship.
  • Maintain control. The group is advisory in nature and has no formal power. You maintain control but get the benefit of valuable expertise and an external perspective.
  • Share what you like. You can determine what you share with the group. You can focus on areas where you need advice and you are not forced to disclose information you'd rather keep private. If however, you want a group to hold you more accountable for organizational performance, that can be a powerful role for the group to play.
  • Meet when you like. You control the frequency, format, duration, and content of the sessions. You might want sessions on a regular schedule or you may only want to convene the advisory team in times of crisis or major organizational opportunity. Today's technology gives you the ability to convene powerful electronic meetings when a face to face session is impractical.
  • Pick and choose. You can use the advisors as an entire team or you can just call a specific member when you need his or her advice. It's your call.
Managing an organization in today's complex and dynamic environment can be extremely challenging. But you don't have to go at it alone. Consider expanding the reach of your organization with a valuable and seasoned team of advisors. You can learn a lot in the process, develop rich personal relationships and dramatically increase your prospects for organizational success.