THE POWER OF ADVISORY BOARD NETWORKS
Some are born to connections; others work at it . . . if architecture is frozen music, then social networks are frozen gossip.
-- Paul Barker, The Guardian Weekly, October 30, 1983
The first two-thirds of my working life were spent in the international industrial sector--plant operations, technical marketing, the research laboratory, the executive suite, and "behind the boardroom door." The last third has been spent in contract research, consulting, and advisory board activities. That is to say, two-thirds of my work experience has been spent in relatively structured organizations and hierarchical cultures, and one-third in a relatively unstructured role with a diversified network structure and peer-dominated cultures.
The perspectives gained from these experiences underscore the value of networks outside an organization being served in a consulting or advisory capacity. There is an immense difference in the relative effectiveness and role of an ordered hierarchical organization and one empowered primarily by networking processes. How the two might be blended to meet the changes that are beginning to reshape our societal and business context is the subject of this chapter. An experienced and well-connected group of advisors can provide a unique perspective by tapping their respective personal networks of persons "who really know."
The blending offers an opportunity for advisors to supplement hierarchical and bureaucratic relationships. To grasp this opportunity,