Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Your Advisory Board is Waiting

There is no more powerful tool you can adopt to grow your business than to set up a board of advisors.

Part II of "Success Insurance," PROFIT Magazine's groundbreaking series on building boards of advisors (a collaboration of myself and outstanding entrepreneur Greig Clark) is now available. "Building Your Own Board" points out that there is no one right way to establish a board: how many people you select, how often it meets, what areas it will oversee, is all up to you. Whatever system you set up will work better than what you have now.

Here's an excerpt:

Some boards meet monthly, others twice yearly. Some never meet, and are really just loose coalitions of contacts for CEOs who want to tap them for advice without setting up a formal body. Clearly, one size doesn’t fit all. In our research, however, we found that regular, quarterly meetings are the most common among successful boards — with dates set out well in advance so everyone can make it.

Who should chair? A Queen’s University study identifies the chair as key to a board’s success. Some CEOs are reluctant to hand off authority, but I believe the more power you share, the better off you’ll be. I recommend appointing an outsider, perhaps the champion who helped set up the board, as chair. That person can prod you to prepare properly for meetings, which is the only way you’ll get full benefit from them. “You have to put work into your meetings up front,” says Lance Laking, president and CEO of Ottawa-based BTI Photonic Systems Inc. “You have to make a concrete effort to carve out some time and make it a priority.”

Chairs must also ensure meetings are productive. This includes preparing and distributing agendas and prep material, running effective meetings and knowing when to encourage discussion and when to shut it down. The chair can also follow up with the CEO between meetings, and generally ensure that the board is meeting its mandate.

For more information on how to build an effective board that will challenge you and help your business continuously improve, click here.

And if you missed Part I, it's still waiting for you to jump "on board." Just click here.

Part III comes out in just a few weeks: How to turbo-charge your board.

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