Two of my biggest passions are cooking and baking. I spend a fair amount of time reading cookbooks, culinary magazines and pouring over food-related Pinterest boards to create a memorable meal. My professional passion is helping our clients to convene an engaged, vibrant Customer Advisory Board and amazingly these have a lot in common!
Advisory Boards, like cooking, are not an exact science. Baking requires precise measuring and careful following of steps; too much or too little of a single ingredient could have disastrous results. Cooking, however, allows for flexibility and improvisation. Advisory Boards, similar to cooking, use a recipe or cookbook as a guide, but the development of an Advisory Board is not an exact science and in fact requires flexibility to adapt and shift over time to meet the needs of the members and the sponsoring organization.
Recipes guide cooking; program plans and best practices steer Customer Council management. Cooks use recipes as a framework for their culinary creations, outlining the ingredients, the timing, and milestones to look for along the way. Similarly, program plans, timelines and best practices provide guidance in developing and maintaining a Customer Advisory Board.
Experience allows for ingredient substitutions. As you become more adept at cooking you can follow the basic recipe and make substitutions. The same is true with Customer Councils. You may have content, strategies and tactics you use when creating a Council, but as the group evolves and you learn what engagement levers work and which don’t you can start thinking of substituting ingredients.
In the end, it all comes down to the experience—planning and ingredients make a great meal and a great meeting!