In my last blog, I suggested that the strategic planning process can be improved by soliciting help from your Customer Advisory Board. I suggested that you start by giving members an opportunity to validate your Vision, and that by including your Advisory Board in the process, you can be confident your newly drafted strategic plan will lead to success.
Validating the Vision is just one way an Advisory Board can drive strategic planning. Members can also help with your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) Analysis. In fact, who better, other than your own customers, can (and will) provide honest feedback about what you are and are not doing right? If they are asked, I can almost guarantee that your Advisory Board members will provide you with the truth, nothing but the Truth!
Near the end of a recent Advisory Board meeting (the fourth meeting of this particular group of members) the executive sponsor (the president of the organization,) called for a private meeting with his Board members. He excused all other members of his executive team and pulled up a chair for a heart-to-heart chat. He was trying to turn his organization around and wanted to hear first-hand, what his advisors had to say.
They told him the truth. They reiterated much of what they had said during previous meetings. They shared their frustration that they hadn’t been taken seriously before. They told him what his organization was doing well and what they were not doing well. They told him what market opportunities he ought to be leveraging, and that part of his own organization was his biggest threat and must be fixed….NOW! They didn’t sugar-coat a thing. Some members were rather blunt, and what they said wasn’t easy for him to hear. They did not affirm that everything was fine. They told him what he needed to do to be successful and in the end, he knew what they said was true.
Are you confident that your strategic plan will lead to success? If not, perhaps you need to change your approach. Solicit the help of your Advisory Board. They’ll provide you with the truth and give you the confidence you need to lead your organization to success.