Published 28 May 2019
There are several popular models of advisory boards, each with its own characteristics. Each type of advisory board is useful for different situations within an organisation.
A formalised advisory board has an independent Certified Chair, a Charter, structured meeting protocols and annual economic impact measurement. The most common composition is internal business representatives, an independent Chair and two external advisors chosen specifically for the priorities identified in the charter. The meeting schedule is often quarterly for the whole advisory board, with the Chair and primary business representative meeting more frequently.
Startups and smaller businesses may also adopt an informal advisory board. This type of advisory board is commonly used for businesses at a very early stage of growth or with significant time and resource constraints. These are often operated with a group of volunteer supporters with a very ad-hoc style discussion and no defined meeting structure. Informal advisory boards tend to operate for a short period of time and then are disbanded either due to lack of focus from the business or time availability of volunteers. This informal style isn’t considered best practice but can often lead to short term positive results, especially in start-up business stages.
A project advisory board is formed for a specific purpose and period of time. The timeframes generally range between three and eighteen months and the sole focus is on a specific project or outcome. Market expansion, succession planning, restructures and many other situations may call for this shorter-term, highly focused arrangement.
A corporatised advisory board is found in organisations that have a well-articulated formal governance structure such as a board of directors. Corporatised advisory boards provide a distinct, yet complementary, support structure for the executives and directors.
Corporatised advisory boards will often have a focused scope and clearly defined protocols to outline the advisory board operation as distinct from the board of directors. This board is often used in multinational operations, stakeholder engagement and major initiatives.
Selecting the applicable board is crucial to the success of business goals and should be one of the first steps in establishing an advisory board.
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