Ideas & Stories

Advisory Boards Evolve from Strategy Plans

Last year, a smart young (possibly disbelieving & skeptical) attendee at a Business Strategy Plan asked: “How can we ensure that these issues and the actions arising from this Strategy Plan will be enacted upon”?

Excellent question. She had a vested interest in the answer… why would she waste years of her career hoping that these good ideas would be implemented, only to be disappointed months or years down the track?

Any form of planning is of lower value if there is no mechanism to ensure that there is a follow up process that monitors the progressive execution of the plan.

Importantly, any ongoing process must also have the flexibility to adapt the planning and the actions to changing circumstances. The business may have a vision of the future (where to) but the path to get there (how to) may need to change. At some point it may again be necessary to revisit the whole strategy if the vision for the future or circumstances significantly changes.

Perhaps one technique that has been effective in many businesses is to set up a group which regularly meets (perhaps quarterly) to address the execution of the plan.

This could be an Advisory Board that comprises some of the attendees of the plan as well as one or two relevantly experienced external advisors. Experience and skill could be either general business or industry specific.

The role of this Advisory Board would not be to make decisions (that is the role of the Directors) but could look at the progress of the Strategy Plan(s), perhaps also with the performance of the business on an ongoing basis, and provide relevant feedback and suggestions to the managers, owners & Directors as to possible courses of action.

In this way, the task of monitoring the accountability for the plan, plus perhaps the performance & effectiveness of the business, would fall to the Advisory Board. The responsibility for its execution falls to (and remains with) the Directors.

We facilitate several client Advisory Boards, many of which have arisen from Strategic Plans. These offer the directors a ‘check in’ for their strategy, a second opinion about the performance & direction of the business for the last quarter, and a forum for discussion of ideas, problems, and current issues.

The role of the Advisory Board should be defined as with any other part of the business structure. The positions of the external and internal attendees should be governed by an engagement letter and employment contract respectively.

Chris Alp