I have been catching up on some old podcasts, and just listened to one from the Get-It-Done Guy about "internal advisory boards." In this podcast, he talks about creating a fictitious advisory board inside your head and using it to vet ideas. Pretty novel concept, and he portrays it in an entertaining way - go give it a listen when you're done here.
That got me thinking about the use of external advisory boards, though. I'm leading a project to define a very forward-looking product strategy, and I've come to realize I'm drawing too much on my own perspective and experience. I don't want to limit my thinking so I've begun to engage with others as advisors, sounding boards, and contrarians to help me make my strategy stronger.
If you've never done this before, it can be daunting. The first step is to admit you need help (pretty easy this time); the second step is to be open to others perspectives (again, fairly easy in this situation); and the third is to figure out who to ask to be your advisor. That third one is a bitch, let me tell you.
I've been trying to make it easier by doing a couple of things:
- I've written a list of the attributes I'm looking for (experience, perspective, type of input I'm looking for, etc.) for a number of advisor types;
- I've begun to socialize this with some of my more connected friends who are most likely know someone or know of someone who can help;
- I've written a document about the topic I want feedback on so I can get any potential advisors anchored in my topic;
- I've begun talking to people more openly about their role as my advisor (interviewing, if you will).
This has worked pretty well - I have a couple of solid advisors on board, and a couple more in the works. I am really looking forward to getting their input.
What about you - have you ever solicited outside advisors in any deliberate manner? If so, do you have any advice you can share?