Source: McKinsey&Co. – The Black Swan

Now, I’m not about to say that McKinsey & Co. doesn’t have some of the best problem solvers in the world, they absolutely do. But is a McKinsey-led strategy as effective as an Advisory Board? I think not.

Like a classically trained violinist, to play in the national orchestra requires absolute precision so before it would appear I undermine the best problem solvers in the ‘strategy ensemble’, I want to admire their excellence in the depth and breadth in their repertoire. But I also want to unpack why collaboration and innovation is changing the rules.

A CEO can work with a strategy house to identify the roadmap ahead and the board can agree to what appears to be a compelling vision for the future, but *insert disruption* and we have a 3-to-5-year strategy blue-print that needs to go in the bin! Whether we call it ‘lean’ or innovation and iterate, the classical strategy piece requires a paradigm shift to embrace disruption; it is to be the innovator or be disrupted.

Let’s consider the alternative, a CEO and Board could appoint an Advisory Board. Now let’s dream of what this might look like (Refer to my previous post viewed by 1,000+ with Atlassian’s Boardroom of Rockstars) as per below:

Technologists, and marketers from the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Symantec, and savvy investors from Morgan Stanley, Bain Capital and leading Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, Accel Partners.

Here in Australia, who could we seek out to be on our Advisory Board to steer a Futures Strategy? Why do we not embrace our own talent and extract the value from within? Australia is the “IDEAS NATION”, while Wi-Fi, Hill’s Hoist, Solar, Cochlear implants and real estate and employment online marketplaces and are only a few examples, we have the IQ, the EQ and next generation thinkers to unravel the futures strategy for companies.

As a mining nation, Australia knows we’ve always been good at digging holes, so if we looked in our own backyard and dug a bit deeper, we can pick up some golden nuggets (or even high value ‘cryptocurrency’ human capital EQ), just look at the razor sharp World Class talent we have produced. What could be achieved if ASX listed companies or our major private companies consider to deploy an Advisory Board? Some of the Founders, and leaders from these companies are already on ASX listed company boards, others are on advisory boards, some are just doing their job (while being silent investors). Just explore the talent that has been born and raised in Australia:

Advisory Boards would be more effective than pure strategy. Here’s why:

  1. More cost effective (Millions of dollars V.s Not millions). A Strategy from a tier 1 firm can costs millions of dollars. How to remunerate advisory board members for either bi-monthly or quarterly meetings is going to differ to hundreds if not thousands of billable hours. How to identify the right Board Matrix and how to then recruit and induct an Advisory Board requires futures thinking and strategy execution in itself.
  2. It brings diversity on steroids to a problem. An Advisory Board can take on different problems and can bring diverse perspectives while also providing diverse ideas to innovate. They also act as an incubator of ideas. Hand selection of the best and brightest advisory board allows a company to bring a nucleus of innovation, STEM, digital, global reach, and next generation employees, CX and consumer behaviour, mindfulness and well-being, cybersecurity, blockchain, cyrptocurrency and artificial intelligence; harness the IQ and EQ.
  3. Not a 3-to-5 year strategy but an Innovation Strategy always willing to pivot. Advisory Boards can be working on multiple problems, with such cognitive diversity, bringing in different perspectives and because they don’t own the strategy, they are more willing to iterate and pivot to achieve optimal outcomes.
  4. Capacity building of the organisation. Advisory Boards can not only act as a parallel to the Board itself, but it can also appoint from within so the best leaders are being exposed to the challenges of the board while also progressing their capacity to enact change from the outside-in thinking. This allows best performers to step up, step back and view from 10,000 feet can also improve organisational capacity.

Boards need to be closer to innovation and embrace the threats of disruption more than ever and an Advisory Board can act as their parallel universe, identifying the risks of tomorrow and the opportunities to innovate.

Now the Black Swan may well fly in and swoop us at any moment in time. We always need the classical strategy to be thinking, always thinking. But, we can achieve our strategic agenda through the deployment of other machinery: An Advisory Board can be a compelling performance mechanism to achieve innovation and deploy a futures strategy and mitigate the threats of disruption. We’re always willing to meet CEO, Non-Executives or Chairs to discuss in strictest confidence how to outperform by adopting an Advisory Board approach to parallel universe governance and innovation.