Customer Advisory Boards Can Drive Strategic Planning - Part 1

In a recent HBR blog, Making Your Strategy More Relevant, Paul Leinwa and Cesare Mainardi suggest that “many business leaders seem to be losing their confidence in strategy, or at least in their own company’s approach to it.” In fact, in their ongoing Booz & Company survey, “53% of their respondents don’t feel their company’s strategy will lead to success.” I’m really not surprised.

Boring MeetingTraditional strategic planning seems to be a four-letter word these days. People I talk to dread it. From my own experience in a previous life, it’s a months-long tedious process of endless meetings and debates over which products and services are more likely to lead to success. More times than not, the end product is a tree of paper that sets on the shelves in executive offices until the process begins all over again in six months! 

The big question
How can the strategic planning process be improved?

The answer: Solicit your Customer Advisory Board members to help.

Let Customer Advisory Boards validate your Vision!

At a recent Customer Advisory Board meeting, my client shared their newly-drafted Vision Statement… to be the trusted provider that helps global clients do xyz. My client was shocked at what came next. He was already moving on to his next slide when a member in the back of the room spoke up. “Whoa! Wait a minute… go back to that slide!” Advisory Board members wanted to discuss that Vision Statement! Members wanted to know why their host company was being so modest. For the next twenty minutes or so, members asked questions and commented as follows.

  • Why are you limiting yourselves?
  • You are much more capable that you give yourselves credit for. 
  • We (some of us) already view you as a trusted partner. 
  • You’ve worked hard to earn our trust. 
  • You are much more than simply a service provider. 
  • The word “global” is in the wrong place. 
  • Your vision needs to be broader. 
  • You’re capable of being more than just a “partner to global clients.” 
  • You’re capable of being their “trusted global partner.” 

That’s a big difference. My client was pleasantly surprised. His Advisory Board members (his top customers) thought pretty highly of his company and wanted them to be successful. His Advisory Board members wanted them to strive for something bigger and better AND they believed they could do it!

Are you one of those business leaders who’s losing confidence in strategic planning? Perhaps you just need to change your approach to it. Solicit your Customer Advisory Board to help! You too may be pleasantly surprised. It could make a big difference! 

Look for Customer Advisory Boards Can Drive Strategic Planning - Part 2 coming soon!

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