Get Thee Some Advisors

Who's Helping You?Who’s Helping You?

strategic planning: innovation: management:success


King Arthur had his Knights of the Round Table. Shouldn’t you have a similar team of sage advisors? Keep in mind that even Tiger Woods has a coach.

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.

Teamwork is essential. It allows you to blame someone else. – Finagle’s Eighth Rule


1) Expand your network. You can expand your organizational reach by leveraging the talent and connections of a diverse group of advisory board members.

2) Choose with care. 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?

3) 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.

4) 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.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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 extremelyhüpfburg 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.

“Many receive advice, few profit from it.” -Publilius Syrus (1st century B.C.)

Greg Pashke , CMC is  President of Pashke Consulting and provides business mentoring, strategic and tactical planning, and financial modeling services. Greg is a big proponent of The One Page Plan approach to managing the day to day performance of an organization. He is committed to continuous learning and skill development. Greg’s mantra is “to get a lot done & have a lot of fun”.

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4 Responses to “Get Thee Some Advisors”

  1. Danny Lucas Says:

    Businessmen and women can easily see the benefits of planting a sole cherry tomato plant out on the back patio in a pot. Later in summer, 500 or more cherry tomatoes are fresh for the picking every day. The investment pays off big time.

    But to those who have started the business, got it on a plate, set the plate on a stick, and began to spin the business up on that stick and plate, the concept of paying someone a small investment to help and advise is incomprehensible at times. It is not so much hubris as the idea that
    "I KNOW what I am doing" steps in. And, it is true. But the best hamburger stand man (Ray Kroc) of McDonald's knew little of running a global operation. He sold milkshake machines. But he knew when to ask for advice!

    My only fear in this scenario is getting an advisory lawyer to give input.
    They can NOT visualize the unbillable hour.

  2. Danny Lucas Says:

    Perhaps a community wide "Advisory Group" could be created, using debits and credit for time served would enhance this thought. As an Engineer, I contribute 3 hours at XYZ operation, gratis.
    I now have a credit in my own firm for any other "Group Members". So, a banking firm comes over for 2 hours and explains financial packaging for export work, gratis. They have 2 hours credit for anything among members, and I still have an hour of anything else.

    Once each quarter or half year, ALL members meet with a printout of debit/credit standings.
    They must equal out in the next quarter to remain a member. That way, everybody serves everybody, and no individual rides on all.

  3. Greg_Pashke Says:

    Danny, as I mentioned in point 3 of my post the process does not have to be expensive. 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.

  4. Greg_Pashke Says:

    Danny, a good suggestion but it might be a bit difficult to monitor. But I have seen things work informally. I belong to a business exchange group that informally accomplishes a lot along the lines of cross-coaching.
    I've also spoken to many CEO forums and am impressed with how much cross mentoring that goes on. There are common problems that pervade lots of industries and most members are happy to share their knowledge to lessen the learning curve for others. Some are born mentors and delight in being able to help.

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