Business Profiles

Collective wisdom, bottom line success – The Alternative Board

Many small and medium businesses (SMEs) in Hawke’s Bay are set to benefit from a globally successful business development model that is based on collaboration of those sitting around a boardroom table.

The Alternative Board – www., has been brought to the Bay by two well-known local businessmen Wayne Baird and Russell Jaggard. It draws on their wide range of business skills, the experience the business owners participating as board members bring; and the collective wisdom of thousands of businesses from all over the globe.

Wayne says it was only by chance that he stumbled across The Alternative Board when he saw the opportunity online.

“Russell and I had been working as business coaches since last July but we were constantly having to invent new resources across the business spectrum. I saw The Alternative Board online and I was instantly interested.

“It’s an alternative way to look at taking a business to the next level. There’s a wealth of tools and resources as well as coaching, but the unique factor is that we are bringing business owners together – to help each other succeed,” Wayne says.

The Alternative Board was launched 28 years ago by US entrepreneur Allen Fishman and Wayne and Russell got the opportunity to meet him on two occasions while they learned more about the organisation during a visit to its headquarters in Denver.

“Allen is now in his 80s but he is an incredibly inspirational person, who is passionate about seeing other business owners succeed.”

Aucklander Stephen James brought the concept to New Zealand in 2012 and it is now established in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Christchurch.

Russell and Wayne have secured the territories of Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Taupo and Wairarapa. The plan is to establish Hawke’s Bay over 2018 and then look at Taupo as the next area.

“There’s over 9000 businesses across our area and we can see that the boards that are created have the potential to add significant income and jobs to many businesses as well as boost each region’s GDP,” Russell says.

The Alternative Board brings together six to eight non-competing business owners as a board with those owners meeting monthly to give advice and provide solutions for each other’s business.

Wayne says there is always a different focus at each meeting with board members presenting an issue or an opportunity which is then explored collectively.

Wayne and Russell’s role is to facilitate and make sure the meetings flow and that time in the hot seat is evenly shared so that all participating business owners get guidance and support.

“We make sure that everyone is well prepared for the meeting, ready to update others on actions taken from the previous meetings, and having a clear idea of what they would like to be discussed with the Board.

“There’s a high level of confidentiality in a trusting environment. We look at it as a combination of shared wisdom and being accountable to our peers,” Russell says.

After each board meeting Wayne and Russell meet individually with the business owners to assist in implementing the actions arising from the board meeting or on other projects that have been identified.

The duo have access to a wide range of The Alternative Board proprietary tools and resources that cover the business spectrum – from human resources materials to marketing and sales through to financial resources.

So what credentials do Wayne and Russell offer in supporting the growth of other businesses?

Wayne has worked across a wide range of businesses, from small start- ups to a corporate environment. His business acumen has been honed in manufacturing, engineering, utilities, IT and telecommunication businesses.

“I’ve owned businesses and have worked in a range of other businesses both locally and nationally. I’ve experienced and seen most of the issues that are likely to arise in a business.”

Russell spent 21 years in the accounting profession and most recently was the CFO for a national ICT business. He is buoyed by the introductory launch event held in mid-April in Napier, as well as the positive responses he and Wayne have received from visiting local businesses.

“It’s been well received. The concept is very different to traditional business growth concepts and most see the value in coming together to accelerate the growth of each other’s business.

To find out more go to: alternative-board-hawkesbay/ or see dates below for sample board meetings.