What Makes a Good Technical Advisor? A Check List


Editor’s note: Three weeks ago, John Abele, a co-founder of Boston Scientific, wrote Getting Disruptive Ideas to Market, one of our most popular posts so far. One point he made was that:

“marketing and funding folk will be pushing hard for you to get some big name scientific and other advisors on the masthead for credibility purposes. Yes, a few may be valuable, but remember, these are people who are already famous. They have nothing to gain…Finding the unknown younger scientist, engineer, or physician who has the capabilities and desire is much more important.”

A number of readers asked for the checklist of physician’s attributes John mentioned that Boston Scientific used to pick its advisors, who would then help the company test and improve its devices. One reader even asked if the list applied to other industries. We pinged John to follow-up. Here’s his response:

Here’s the list, and a little bit more. And of course they apply to different industries, although the specific criteria may change to varying degrees. The most important principle is what makes an individual credible to various audiences.

I used to give this list to people we were considering and ask them to rate themselves on each parameter…on a scale of 1 to 5. It had a powerful influence on the dynamic of our discussions. We want people who tell us the good and the bad, and the implications of both.

Editor again: John sent along a PowerPoint containing the list, and “a little bit more.” You can find it here.

John Abele is a cofounder and director of Boston Scientific Corporation, chairman of the Argosy Foundation, and owner and developer of the Kingbridge Centre and Institute, a conferencing institute whose mission is to research, develop, and teach improved methods for interactive conferencing. He is also board chairman of FIRST ( For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a K-12 educational program. Follow @

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