In today’s era of technological shifts and fierce competition, the standout companies are the ones that embrace innovation and digital transformation. But how can a CEO steer their company to the forefront of innovation? The answer lies, among other things, in creating an Innovation Advisory Board, a potent strategy that can guide the company toward a brighter, more competitive future. Below, I outline some key steps for establishing a successful and impactful innovation council.

Defining Purpose and Vision

The pivotal first step in forming an Innovation Advisory Board is to define a clear purpose and vision. This purpose must be aligned with the company’s overall mission, setting the direction for innovation. Whether it’s enhancing internal processes, launching new products, or exploring fresh market opportunities, having a solid purpose serves as the compass guiding all future actions.

Selecting Appropriate Advisory Profiles

Once the purpose is set, selecting the right profiles for the Innovation Advisory Board becomes essential. Seek individuals who contribute diverse perspectives and experiences, including technology experts, industry leaders, and successful entrepreneurs. Ensure that members share a passion for innovation and possess the ability to constructively challenge the status quo.

Meeting Dynamics and Regulations

The dynamics of meetings are pivotal to the council’s success. Draft a clear set of regulations outlining meeting objectives, frequency, and advisors’ roles. Cultivate an environment that encourages free exchange of ideas and respectful debate. Also, consider assigning specific tasks to advisors to leverage their individual knowledge and experiences. Additionally, it’s important not only to discuss successes but also failures and the lessons learned from them.

Generating Value Through Advisory Participation

The true magic of an Innovation Advisory Board lies in its potential to generate tangible value for the company. Foster active participation of advisors in identifying opportunities, formulating strategies, and resolving challenges. Empower advisors to act as catalysts for change, bringing fresh ideas and innovative visions that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Advantages of Having an Innovation Advisory Board

A company with an innovation council showcases its commitment to innovation to stakeholders and employs it as a brand positioning strategy. Nevertheless, that’s not the only advantage; others include:

  • Diversity of Perspectives: A variety of experiences and knowledge enrich decision-making and strategies.
  • Network of Contacts: Advisors can bring valuable connections with other companies and industry leaders.
  • Acceleration of Innovation: The board can provide innovative ideas and approaches that drive digital transformation.
  • Accountability: The board can serve as a supervisory mechanism to ensure innovation remains a priority.

However, like any endeavor, risks must be considered. Setting up and maintaining the council can be resource-intensive, both in terms of time and money. Employees might also feel threatened by external intervention, and conflicts of interest can arise. Quantitatively measuring the council’s impact can also be challenging.

Closing the Innovation Gap

Ultimately, establishing an Innovation Advisory Board can serve as a catalyst for transforming a company into a sector leader. By following the steps outlined—from defining purpose and vision to generating tangible value through advisory participation—CEOs can bridge the innovation gap and position their companies for success in the digital era. As shown in the HBR article “The Board’s New Innovation Imperative” governing innovation in the company remains one of the significant challenges for CEOs and boards.

Ricardo Alfaro