I continually find people calling the group they’re assembling an “advisory board.” I’ve seen roundtables, CEO Forums, mastermind groups, kitchen cabinets and the like marketed as “your small business advisory board.” When I investigate the details I find all these permutations violate the basic and purest definition of an advisory board. This is not to say those groups are not valuable. My issue is they are not advisory boards.
Definition of an Advisory Board
In the purest definition an advisory board is:
- A group of people hand-selected by the CEO.
- Advisors advise the CEO exclusively on issues facing the business and/or the CEO.
- The same advisors attend each meeting.
- There is no mutual problem-solving. Advisors do not discuss the issues facing them and their businesses.
- The CEO can fire advisors or they can resign.
For a short-time last year I belonged to a forum for professional service providers. There were 12-16 members depending on whom showed-up. Each month one or two people presented a burning issue they needed advice on. A month or so after one member presented he complained the time had been insufficient to receive the advice he needed. His turn didn’t come up again for awhile. I suggested to him it was time to form his own advisory board.
You can learn more about the differences and benefits of roundtables, CEO forums, mastermind groups and using mentors in an e-book I’ve written Five Ways to Tap into Cost-Effective Advice. It’s available when you sign-up to receive this blog via email. Go to www.schammond.com and a pop-up will appear. Fill-in the requested information and the e-book will be sent to you. If you don’t receive the e-book contact me.
Susan C. Hammond consults with CEOs of small to mid-size companies and nonprofit organizations on the formation and facilitation of advisory boards, ways to enhance organizational financial intelligence, and governance. She previously served as member of the senior management team of technology start-ups, professional service firms, and nonprofit organizations. Susan is the author of the Advisory Board Kit: A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing an Advisory Board.