When he finally turned to the advisory board, I connected him with a noncompeting company that I knew had dealt with similar problems. In no time, our CEO had learned enough to correct the division’s problems and make it a success.
These types of stories abound in the business world, leading to a mystique about outside advisers. They’re thought to be endowed with supernatural powers or to possess more and special knowledge about a wider range of topics than those inside a business. In addition, outside board members are assumed to be ready to make command decisions as needed.
All of this is pretty much nonsense, of course. Insiders work 50-60 hours a week in the business, and outside advisers visit for a few hours each quarter. Even so, I think there are good reasons to consider assembling a board of outside advisers.
Outside advisers have probably been a few places you haven’t and may know some people you don’t. They not only offer advice based on their own experiences but can connect you with resources to which you wouldn’t otherwise have access.
As a result of their independence and objectivity, they’re also able to address topics that other employees can’t or won’t. Outsiders can uniquely add value when a CEO has an underperforming division and doesn’t want to talk about it or when an acquisition fails to live up to projections but no one is asking for a review.
They have no favorite solutions to most problems. They tend to be less informed but more objective. They know they are a part of a team and not the leader. And outsiders can proffer safe paths of communication between different levels of executives.