Flexibility and Relevancy Key to Interactive CAB Discussions

I recently attended a Customer Advisory Board meeting with a well-establishepeople meetingd group.  Some of the members have been on the Board since its inception (3 years), while others have joined within the past year.

During an open discussion in one of the sessions, several members shared a similar concern about a specific trend from the host organization.  While this particular topic was not on the agenda, the group consensus was to spend some time discussing the issue.

There are times when unexpected topics come up, and knowing when to "adjust on the fly" is important.  Before changing the agenda, ask yourself these key questions:
  • Is the concern shared by and/or relevant to the majority of the members?
  • Does the Executive Sponsor want to explore the concern at the meeting or hold until later?
  • What would be the best format to address the topic (open discussion, small group discussions, etc.)?
Good facilitation is crucial when it comes to "shifting gears" or adjusting the agenda.  Adapting to the needs of the customers, as long as the Executive Sponsor agrees, shows flexibility on behalf of all parties.  When properly structured and managed, these conversations can help the host not only understand the problem more clearly, but also the underlying causes and impact.  Once that is complete, having the CAB shift to an Advisory role is key to addressing the issue at hand.  This approach will also stop the discussion from evolving into a "complaint session," which only leaves everyone frustrated and with no mutual action to address the core issue.

For the meeting I attended, the change was well received.  A concern was voiced, and the host organization is now better informed on what expectations are for the future.  They are currently addressing this concern internally in order to fast-track a solution.  This is a great example of CAB members truly fulfilling their mission of "Advisor."

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