Commitments · Performance management

Managing your advisory board commitments? Getting value from advisors.

Chris Heuer Futurist, serial entrepreneur and change agent

March 24th, 2014

I've got a great advisory board. Truly. An almost unbelievable mix of expertise that I trust, value and that fills in gaps in my own blindspots across the board. I went with a total of 10 which is a bit large by all standards, but I love each of them, trust them and value their advice, so having their input, reputations and amplification behind me makes me smile widely.

They are pretty good about keeping their commitments, but like all advisors, they are over extended and have a lot of people they are helping, while supporting their families, their communities and their personal passions. I've heard from a lot of entrepreneurs who are really struggling to get value from their advisors, and in talking to them, they really seemed to resonate with my new software called Alynd which helps people make and keep their commitments. So we are going to explore startups and their advisory board commitment management as a key target market for us. I'd love it if you are interested if you signed up for access to our private alpha (let me know you did here and I will bump you up the list).

But the question here, for everyone's benefit, is how do you encourage/reward advisors to keep their commitments without pissing them off and being harsh on them? I have heard a lot of different methods, from creating contractual clauses that kicks them out if they miss 3 meetings in a row, to even harsher techniques. Then there are others who just ignore the lack of performance and value add to just use their name and be happy. So what are you doing to encourage your advisory board to keep their commitments? what if anything do you do if they don't?


Dave Sifry Head of Product at Addapp Corp

March 24th, 2014

F2F and regular 1 on 1 phone calls. Nothing beats the human touch. Give homework. Follow up afterwards. It's your responsibility to manage your advisory board (and Board of Directors!) not the other way around.

Much love as an advisor :)


Usama Malik

March 24th, 2014

Chris -

I have managed a few innovation advisory boards for large enterprises.  Some quick learnings:

- Spell out roles and responsibilities in the contract

- Incentivize them both financially and otherwise i.e. advisors want to work on cool projects and deliver impact, so give them specific roles/ responsibilities and partner them with a senior executive with whom they can drive a project and see progress

- Don't give them too many commitments, one big project or "tag" per person is usually right

- Establish and continually revisit group and individual rules and norms - transparency is key.  If someone is repeatedly not delivering, politely ask them to move out or align with a role more to their liking

- Use social pressure to create a "race to the top," e.g. review progress and give kudos to the teams that are meeting their commitments and obligations under the purview of the advisors, highlight where commitments are falling behind


Lawrence Lerner Digitalization and Transformation Coach

March 24th, 2014

Chris, I'd be interested in signing up for your alpha.

I've done both advisory and public boards.  Setting commitments in writing is a start and getting the agreements up front is key.  There are a lot of techniques and tiers of commitment which should be commensurate with the rewards.  Some boards have a straight fee for the services rendered.

I'd think you would create different agreements by types of activities the board and the individual provide.