Sounding Board - how is it used?
It is a body that meets regularly in moderated meetings and provides advice to the various projects and processes. A sounding board is therefore there to capture the mood, opinions and, in general, feedback from the entire workforce of a company. The method originated in change management, where it is all the more important to involve and capture everyone involved and to know what is going on in their heads. A change process will inevitably fail if everyone secretly thinks it's stupid and just carries on as before. In many other areas, however, a sounding board can also have positive effects.
One term - two meanings
In project management, sounding board refers to the feedback method just described and, at the same time, to the body made up of its members. This board, this committee, does not make any decisions. It serves as a collection point, but also as an analysis point of the feedback. The term sounding board is basically not entirely inappropriate, because the sounding board in a company is actually supposed to collect all the different sounds and gain insights from them. The sounding board has long since been used in more than just change management. Sounding boards are used in the development of marketing campaigns to capture feedback and ideas at an early stage. In research and development projects, the goal of a sounding board is also to capture opinions at an early stage of the project. In portfolio management, sounding boards are used to sound out which projects, which may be competing for resources or budgets, are the most promising. If the sounding board is truly independent and objective, it often succeeds in hearing voices that would otherwise be lost in the crowd of opinions and, more importantly, in the face of generally accepted opinion. Basically, a sounding board can also be used in general management and consulting. The possibilities of the method are manifold and it always makes sense when honest feedback is desired across several hierarchy levels.
Composition and purpose
Procedure of a meeting
Example open feedback:
Prepare the meeting in such a way that you inform the members of the sounding board about the contents of the meeting. Everyone should form an opinion in advance on the basis of the topic and collect ideas. Indicate how feedback will be collected: Verbally or in writing? - And how it should be recorded (logged). Does a clear decision need to be made at the end or is it more about collecting ideas? Determine whether opinions and ideas should only be formulated or also discussed. You decide. Afterwards, you will have a collection of ideas that you can publish, analyze and compare.
A sounding board can also be used to evaluate alternatives. However, this is only possible if there are already variants on the table that the sounding board can compare. In this case, the variants are presented and each member gives individual feedback on each variant, which in turn is recorded and discussed if necessary (but not mandatory). Make sure that there are always fixed time slots for presentations as well as for the feedbacks, so that everyone can have their say and a comparison of the variants is also possible.