ENCORE POST: How You Can Avoid Embarrassing “ABD”

HOW YOU CAN AVOID EMBARRASSING “ABD” – (Originally posted November 2015)

(This is a summary of remarks I shared at the 2015 CTE Vision Conference in New Orleans for a session held by the NCCER, a construction education organization[1]).

For those of us men who are of a certain vintage, you can’t turn on a television show without seeing an advertisement about medication for a certain type of “dysfunction.”

I want to talk about a different kind of dysfunction – ABD.  I’m going to share with you some symptoms.  If you suffer from these, you may have ABD – Advisory Board Dysfunction.

For Business and Employers?

What are the signs of ABD (advisory board dysfunction)?

  • We get talked to by educators, and aren’t really asked to give input
  • The instructor runs the committee for us
  • We get confused by education rules, regulations and jargon
  • We don’t start and end on time
  • We don’t have clear goals, roles or timelines for the board

For Educators?

What are the signs of ABD (advisory board dysfunction)?

  • Employers don’t show up to scheduled meetings
  • Employers just complain about today’s workforce
  • Employers criticize our program but don’t offer real help to make it better
  • Employer don’t respect the processes (or try to understand) the processes that education works by
  • Employers don’t let our students visit the worksite
  • Employers don’t let their workers visit our programs

So, how can you get rid of ABD?

By taking a healthy dose of BFO – a Blinding Flash of the Obvious.  Often we read something that is well thought out, and it seems so obvious!  So why don’t we put into practice the things that we intuitively know?  Often, we’re so busy we forget to pay attention to the little stuff.  Running an effective advisory board isn’t that complicated, but it does take a plan, and then follow-through on the little things.

First, you need to “PLAN the WORK” and then you need to “WORK the PLAN.”

If you want to have a great pathway program but you DON’T have a viable advisory board, you probably want something that can’t happen.  But if you want a great pathway program, then investing in a strong advisory board is well worth the effort.

Take some time to consider how a great advisory board can help you build a great program, which in return, will give you great outcomes for your students and your community.

If you’re ready to create a great advisory board and get rid of ABD once and for all, go to the NC3T bookstore and get a copy of Brett Pawlowski and Charlie Katz ’s Employer Engagement Toolkit.  There’s an excellent chapter on managing Advisory Boards that helps you get it right! You might also check out another publication, Forms on File: Advisory Boards, which provides all the forms needed to start and manage your CTE Advisory Board.


Hans Meeder is President and Foundation of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions.  (www.nc3t.com).  NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems.

[1] See http://www.nccer.org/

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