Selecting Potential Advisory Board Members

When you sit down to build your next advisory board, you’ll probably have a wish list — a group of prominent people whose experience and pedigree you respect. But their career achievements don’t necessarily make them valuable board members, because serving on a board isn’t about what someone’s done. It’s about who they are and what they want to do.

Three Questions You Should Consider When Selecting Potential Advisory Board Members…

1. Do They Want to Be a Part of This Advisory Board?

Are they truly interested in your cause? Do they legitimately care about the problem you’re trying to resolve? Or do they have a reputation of just “filling a chair”? Are they known to sit on each and every industry ad board and accept every single invitation?Sometimes it’s better NOT to select the same people as everyone else – perhaps partnering with someone who has not yet made the “list” of upper echelon advisors in a particular therapeutic area may pay off more over the long term and result in a mutually beneficial long term relationship. 

2. Do They Have Time to Devote?

While it’s nice to have the most desired advisor in the industry on your advisory board, if this person is already spread too thin they may not be fully able to commit to it. If they don’t have time to do the pre-reads, if they can’t make any of your meeting dates, it won’t matter how brilliant or published they are. Perhaps consider that you may actually get more helpful feedback from someone else, perhaps the #2 from the same region or center, who has the bandwidth to contribute the way you need them to.

3. How Do They Handle Conflict and Different Opinions?

The best advisory board members’ welcome constructive debate and like to hear from those whose opinions differ from their own. If you’ve done any advisory boards at all you will know that there are those who tend to dominate the discussion and those who tend to remain quiet. While obtaining insights via an asynchronous online touchpoint alleviates this issue, you will likely still wish to gather your advisors in the same room at some point. The dynamic mentioned above is normal and to some degree unavoidable, but you may wish to ensure that your most vocal advisors are not viewed as intimidating to the others. For example, there may be a recognized #1 opinion leader in a particular disease area, but if that person is also very vocal, and at the same time not particularly open to constructive debate, you risk not hearing any other opinions. Your advisors may be intimidated to speak up or share a contrary opinion to someone recognized as the thought leader in their world. In this situation, you pay 20 advisors to hear the opinion of one.