Monday, October 31, 2011

Peer Advisory Groups, Common Themes

Earlier this summer, I attended a meeting on Peer Advisory Groups hosted by Danny Klinefelter at Texas A&M. Several types of Peer Advisory Groups were introduced and discussed that the meeting. All of these groups had different compositions and structures. The successful groups had some things in common. They are listed here in no specific order:

1. Time and Money: Members must contribute money and time; members have to pay a price in money and must attend the meetings in person. In addition, rotating responsibilities across the group was a good thing (for example, each meeting one person takes the notes, one person keep track of time and one person makes sure everyone is contributing, perhaps another person is in charge of food, etc.).

2. Confidentiality: what is discussed in the room stays in the room
3. Respect: Members must respect each other, especially when disagreements occur
4. Dead Zone: At the meeting, turn off all electronic devices. Devote your time and your brain to the meeting
5. Commitment: The bigger the commitment, the bigger the pay-off. In general, members were most satisfied with a group that required more time and/or more sharing of details. Of course, this level of sharing requires extreme trust and respect from other members of the group.
6. Keep it Small: Groups typically get no larger than about 10 or 12 businesses.
7. Ring Leader: Most groups had an adviser or coordinator that kept up with the meeting details and visited members.

Some of the things that killed a group:
1. Lack of contribution. This was the number one reason a group suffered. If a member is not willing to share ideas, comments and even criticisms, the entire group is hurt. In most cases where a member was asked to leave, it was because the member was not contributing.
2. Lack of trust. This was extremely rare. If anyone breaks trust, they break confidence of the group. However, this was an extremely rare occurrence. 

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