Extracting Value from your Customer Advisory Boards

When developing Board meeting sessions we ask our clients to be clear about where they want advice. We ask them to consider the questions they have for the Board; where they need advice; and how an external voice could help their thinking.

Identifying the best questions – the ones that will bring value to your organization – is not an easy task. Board members do not spend their days in your business. While they have experience with your company, they do not understand your strategy at any level of depth. Board members perform best when they are asked questions that they can relate to. For example, while the question “does the strategy resonate?” will bring some thinking, a question that is 2-3 layers deeper and more specific will result in stronger input and likely a higher value discussion.

Future state questions are also challenging. It is hard to ask people to imagine a future and advise on that future. Most of us can’t envision the future you are trying to define and often will offer you advice that is not useful.

If you are shaping a future state it is best to show the future. Provide some demonstrations of that future or possible future through storyboards, prototypes and use cases. Give decision paths or choices and demonstrate the impact of those choices so the Board members can see the potential.

Too often, subject matter experts and presenters are tasked to be the smartest people in the room and to sell their ideas. Board meetings rarely go well when you use them as pitch sessions. Carefully consider where you really need help, do the work to create questions that are meaningful and will explore at a deeper level take the time to demonstrate the future. These actions will bring more value to you and your Board.

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Like any good relationship, customer engagement is a long-term, reciprocal effort. When done well, meaningful engagement leads to better business results, faster.

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