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Advisory Board or Mastermind Group?

As a Growth Coach, I get asked quite often by CEOs and Founders if I know of Advisory Boards or people who want to be part of an advisory board for their business. Do Small Medium Businesses (SMEs) need such a board or do peer Mastermind Groups serve a similar purpose more dynamically for today's fast changing world? Which might be the better place to invest your time and energy to grow your business?

According to the Advisory Board Centre,

"The purpose of most advisory boards is to help an organization gain new insights and advice to solve business problems or explore new opportunities by stimulating robust, high-quality conversations."

This is slightly different than a board of directors who is mainly responsible for making sure that a company's operations are running effectively and profitably. Where Board of Directors tend to be focused primarily on the fiduciary (legal, regulatory, compliance) and strategic (priorities, plans, allocation of resources) needs of the business, Advisory Boards generally focus more solely on strategic needs. An Advisory Board usually consists of external advisors, stakeholders and other industry representatives who can bring their expertise to enhance decision making for increased performance and results. This can be of great value to SME leaders who likely lack or have much more limited senior experience inside the business to draw upon. An Advisory Board can increase the confidence of CEOs in strategic decisions. The main challenge for businesses seeking to form an Advisory Board is finding the right board members and those who are willing to commit the time on a regular basis to be involved.

According to the Advisory Board Centre,

"The role of an advisory board is not to make decisions, but rather to provide current knowledge, critical thinking and analysis to increase the confidence of the decision-makers who represent the company."

In contrast, peer Mastermind Groups can help CEOs make decisions and engage in generative discussions which often surface the key questions and answers holding back strategy execution and business growth. Mastermind Groups, depending on the specifics of how the group is set up and operates, can bring knowledge, experience, learning and expertise from peers who collectively have a wealth of experience to share. Since participants are not just providing advice but also receiving it, they are often more deeply connected to the success of each other.

In reference to Mastermind Groups, The Alternative Board says that while most people have heard the term, many aren’t entirely sure what it actually means. They provide the following definition:

"a mastermind group is when multiple business owners regularly meet with the single purpose of helping each other succeed"

With facilitation of an experienced and certified business growth coach, critical thinking and analysis for the unique situations and choices every business makes can be leveraged through action learning to iterate and adapt to

a continuously changing business environment. To be effective, a Mastermind Group needs to be confidential, time bound, and be small, including no more than 5-10 non-competing participants. This group approach can provide collaborative, shared space for facilitated exploration and dialogue. In essence the facilitator brings the skills of executive and group coaching along with a toolkit for exploring leadership, strategy, execution, customers, talent, systems, and profit so participants can create action outcomes from every session. Participants have accountability to themself and the group for taking action and reporting back to the group on their results.

Both Advisory Boards and Mastermind Groups can be powerful options for CEOs and Founders to help improve thinking, options, and decisions. Jerome Dickey facilitates AWS Growth MasterMinds groups and have seen incredible results of creating space for deep thinking about critical challenges in a time constrained world. It's lonely at the top but doesn't have to be when bright minds and experience can come together to leverage collective intelligence!

As an Agile Growth Coach & Certified Business Coach, Jerome Dickey utilizes professional expertise every day to ensure clients can successfully ask the right questions to find solutions right for their organization. Agile Work Solutions provides a proven, practicable and profitable path for companies, non-profits, and local governments who want to move beyond their current performance.

Jerome Dickey, MA, PCC, Q.Med


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