Advisory Board or Working Group: The Difference

A common tool used by many industries is the advisory board. The concept is easy: gather some intended target audience members in a room, present some information, and obtain feedback (or advice) from them based upon what you present. Whether a few hours long or a full-day meeting, an advisory board provides valuable insights and consult that can impact or reinforce your plans. But, what if you want to go one step further? What if you want to actually partner with those advisors to create and execute the recommendations they have provided? If you want to have your KOLs roll up their sleeves, become extensions of your team, and help generate content or develop a new tool or resources, then you want to establish a working group.

Both advisory boards and working groups provide feedback, but the expectations around this feedback and how it is used are very different. In an advisory board, the typical structure is “listen and respond,” while a working group might be “understand, ideate, and generate.” There is a greater emphasis on understanding and helping to come up with reasonable solutions, rather than just sharing feedback on whatever was presented and expecting others to carry it out.

In an advisory board, feedback is captured and typically shared with the extended team who could not attend the meeting live. In a working group, the individuals providing the feedback are also the people who will help respond to the feedback. This means there is less misinterpretation of insights collected, and time and effort are saved when generating corresponding deliverables.

Advisors commonly limit their involvement in discussions to the advisory board meeting, while working group members continue to engage over weeks or months, are committed to the overall project/tactic, and have buy-in to see the effort succeed. Working group members see the effort as a true partnership—industry and experts working together for a common cause: the improvement of patient outcomes.

So, do you just want to hear the feedback (advisory board) and then act on it yourself, or do you want to partner with KOLs who will help you execute that feedback (working group)? Ultimately, the brand team members are responsible for successfully executing their strategy for the year. Partnering with external experts who have a focused interest and shared background on those initiatives can help increase success, generate stronger feedback, and establish stronger partnerships with KOLs.