Advisory Board Members Attributes

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Case Studies - Forming An Advisory Board

Two case studies of processes that tech companies have gone through to form advisory boards are Google's Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) and Facebook's Safety Advisory Board.

GOOGLE'S ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY EXTERNAL ADVISORY COUNCIL (ATEAC)

FACEBOOK'S SAFETY ADVISORY BOARD

RESEARCH STRATEGY

For the purpose of this analysis, credible and relevant articles, reports and other resources that were published prior to 2018 were used to provide additional context into Facebook's Safety Advisory Board. Given that the Facebook Safety Advisory Board was created in 2009, it seemed both reasonable and prudent to leverage resources created at the same time or thereafter to provide insight and discussion related to the advisory board.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Key Factors - Choosing An Advisory Board

Additional key factors to consider when choosing advisory board members for a technology company are their skills and experiences, popularity in the field, choose quality people and several others. The details are outlined in full below.


FACTOR 1: SKILLS AND EXPERIENCES

  • When choosing advisory board members for a technology company, it is highly important that the potential advisors possess the skills and experiences that the founders lack.
  • The company should consider the expertise that is lacking in their present team. It should then choose advisers that fill those gaps.
  • This is a key factor as these advisers will bring a new perspective to the company. They will be seasoned individuals who are well-rounded in the technology industry.
  • They will also bring valuable industry insights and help your company to grow. Recruiting individuals with fresh skill sets will help the company to make better decisions.
  • Technology company managers should do an evaluation of the company and find the company’s weaknesses. Advisers should then be chosen who will help to turn these weaknesses into strengths.
  • Choosing advisers that have the skill set lacking in the company will help it to become successful and increase its productivity.

FACTOR 2: POPULARITY IN THEIR FIELDS

  • Technology companies should do their best to choose advisory board members who are big names in their fields. These advisory board members should be very popular and highly respected.
  • This is a key factor as these candidates will make it easier for the company to pitch to other candidates on the list.
  • They will assist the company in grabbing the attention of potential investors. They will also have the connections needed to help grow the company.
  • For example, Mark Zuckerberg highlights that Steve Job’s mentorship and knowledge of the key players in the field were critical to the success of his social media platform.
  • Endeavor Insights analysts found that over 33% of tech companies that were advised by well-known and well-established experts in the field went on to establish very successful organizations.
  • These types of advisers can help the business to establish credibility. They will help to attract and keep customers, partners, employees, and investors.
  • Aaron Pittman, founder of RA Domain capital intelligence said that advisers should be able to network and should be very popular in their varying fields as to attract the right people to the company.

FACTOR 3: NOT TOO MANY ADVISORS

  • Companies should be very selective when choosing advisory board members. It should always be quality over quantity.
  • Advisory boards should be limited to just five members with the necessary skills and experience.
  • A big advisory board may lead to issues. Another article stated that keeping advisory boards under 5 members is usually the best way to go.
  • Having too many advisers can lead to less productivity. It can also lead to unnecessary disagreements and stall the growth of the company.
  • Advisory boards should have over seven people. Businesses should seek to have members who bring real value, no matter how small the number.

FACTOR 4: WANT TO SEE THE COMPANY SUCCEED

  • A technology company should choose advisers that are invested in its growth.
  • These advisers should be highly involved in matters related to the company and should not have to be prompted to come to meetings, take part in meetings, read through important documents, and so on.
  • According to Walle, there are two main types of advisers, one that you call for advice and the other that is calling you to share insights. Companies should choose the latter as these advisers will be extremely beneficial to the growth of the company and its overall success.
  • These advisers will be fully committed to the company and will support it along the way.
  • Advisers should be invested in the company's success. They should be vocal and active in meetings.
  • Companies should ensure they choose the right advisers that are willing to put in the time needed for the success of the company.

FACTOR 5: WORKS WELL WITH OTHERS

  • This is a key factor, as advisers who cannot work in a team will not work well on the board.
  • A lot of different opinions will be said at each meeting and each adviser must be able to respect the opinion of the other.
  • If they cannot, this will lead to a clash of personalities and many disagreements. It will lessen the productivity of each meeting and stifle the company’s growth overall.
  • Advisers should be respectful towards the company and the other advisers on the team. It will help to develop a mutual understanding between all the parties.

FACTOR 6: A LOYAL CUSTOMER/SUPPORTER

  • Adding a loyal customer or supporter to the advisory board will be good for the company. Especially as the company advances, it will be increasingly difficult to keep connected to customers.
  • Having one on the board will help the company to understand its customers.
  • This is a key factor as having a loyal customer/supporter on the board will help the company to gain valuable insights into what people are looking for.
  • It will provide information on what motivates customers/supporters. The company will also get information on some long term improvements it can make to create competitive products.
  • This customer/supporter on the board will be the key to the mind of the target market.
  • Having a customer on the advisory board impact your product road map, generate brand champions, shape marketing messages, and uncover great insights that will lead to the success of the business.
  • This type of adviser will also help the company to increase its customer retention and guarantee customer approval.

FACTOR 7: MARKETING EXPERT

  • It is a good idea to choose someone with marketing expertise to be on the advisory board. Advisors are usually there to provide advice on marketing, sales, and finance. Having board members from each of these industries will be helpful.
  • This is a key factor as marketing is highly important to any company. Having a board member who is efficient in marketing will help with the growth of the company.
  • A marketing expert on the advisory board will provide information on marketing needed for the growth of the company.
  • Choosing advisers with a marketing background is very important. These individuals will help to monitor the company’s market and sales and improve the credibility of the business.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To find information for this research, we first conducted a general search on the key factors to consider when choosing advisory board members for a technology company. This search led us to a variety of articles and press releases with tips and advice on what to look for in advisory board members. We shortlisted these findings to credible sources. We also visited technology company websites to see what they did when they were choosing members for their advisory board. Insights were also taken from technology experts who used advisory boards. Information was also garnered from blogs, news articles, and business platforms.

Part
03
of three
Part
03

Best Practices - Delegating Role & Responsibilities: Advisory Board

For delegating roles and responsibilities on an advisory board for a technology company, three best practices include defining the advisory board's goals, identifying key, varied roles that members can play, and balancing control-related tasks and service-related tasks.

Define the Advisory Board's Goals

  • To delegate responsibilities effectively, an advisory board must have clear goals.
  • Once the advisory board is established, each meeting should be well-prepared and have a clear agenda so that each member can understand their role.
  • Having a mandate for the board as a whole is as essential as assigning individual responsibilities to its members.
  • Thomas Walle, co-founder and CEO of Unacast, says that clearly defining the mandate of an advisory board makes the difference between having an advisory board that you call for help and an advisory board that proactively offers solutions.

Identify Key, Varied Roles that Members Can Play

  • Mitchell Kopelman, partner at a major tech consulting firm, recommends that responsibilities be delegated according to five archetypes: the Loyal Customer, the Industry Networker, the Pragmatic Expert, the Global Navigator, and the Marketing Maverick.
  • These five roles can then focus on, respectively, giving the customer perspective, offering industry-level insights, tracking the company's long-term future, providing an understanding of cultural nuances, and empowering marketing analytics and outreach options.
  • Another expert, Bill Green, also says assigning advisers varied roles is essential for a successful advisory board.
  • Each member should understand their role and expectations and all other employees that may be affected by the member's role should also understand their function.

Balance Control-Related Tasks and Service-Related Tasks

  • Control-related tasks, like coordination of shareholder, and service-related tasks, like networking, should be delegated carefully to an advisory board, as demonstrated in Eric Weber's study on advisory boards for tech companies.
  • Control-related tasks, while essential, are often managed by a board of directors, so it is important to avoid overlap in responsibility, and too much focus on control-related tasks can lead to dissatisfaction from the company with the advisory board.
  • On the other hand, service-related suggestions by the advisory board should be kept focused and at a high-level, so many companies delegate the role of communication to just the chair of the advisory board.

Research Strategy

To identify these three best practices, our research team first conducted a preliminary review of information on constructing and managing advisory boards for tech companies by reviewing business news and industry publications. From this overview, we created a list of potential best practices. Then, we narrowed down the list based on the frequency that the practice was recommended, the level of expertise of the people who recommended it, and the uniqueness and applicability of the practice to the parameters of the research criteria. The first best practice, defining the advisory board's goals, was the most frequently proposed practice, recommended by nearly every publication discussing how to manage an advisory board. The next best practice was also mentioned frequently, and by notable experts in the field. The last best practice, while less common, was a recommendation that resulted from a major research project covering advisory boards specifically for technology companies. After narrowing down the list, we conducted a final round of research to verify, substantiate, and add data to the three best practices.
Sources
Sources

From Part 01
From Part 02