Friday, June 5, 2009

THE PROCESS AND SUBSTANCE OF BOARD DECISION MAKING. Guide for achieving Quality Shared Decision Making.


The success of a Board is determined by both the substance of its decisions and the manner in which they are made. An effective Board generates quality decisions, together, and within a reasonable amount of time. Such a Board balances the need for effectiveness and efficiency with the need to engage its members as equal partners in debate and shared decision making.

It should be noted that process (the manner in which a decision is made) is just as important as substance (the decision itself ). A substantively good decision may fail because it was rushed, minorities were bullied, or the community and stakeholders were not sufficiently informed or consulted.

Starting with the five substantive criteria, a Board decision should be:
1. Strategic. The decision supports the attainment of the organization’s mission, vision, and strategic goals. It transcends short-term crises and narrow issues and addresses broad and long-term priorities.
2. Informed. The decision is based on knowledge and objective analysis of benefits versus risks. It is not tainted by anger, envy, narrow interests, premeeting promises, conflicts of interest, and so on.
3. Smart. The decision employs creativity and innovation. It seeks to optimize the use of human, financial, and other resources and maximize the benefits over time.
4. Balanced and Fair. The decision achieves an appropriate balance among the needs of the whole organization, the needs of individuals and constituent units, and any other legitimate needs.
5. Sustainable, Affordable, and Legal. The decision is realistic and can be implemented with available and reasonably foreseen means. It complies with legal requirements, bylaws, and policies.

From a process perspective, the manner in which a Board decision is made should be:
1. Collectively Driven. All Board members are included in the decision-making process, thereby arriving at the same outcome together as active partners and not as acquiescent or reluctant followers.
2. Transparent and Accountable. The community is kept informed from the conception of the decision to its implementation. If the decision has substantial impacts, the Board seeks community input on it.
3. Respectful and Honest. All parties to decision making are treated with respect and honesty. There are no hidden agendas. The process is not tainted by bullying and trickery.
4. Measured and Gradual. The pace of decision making is comfortable. It is neither rushed nor slow. Progress is deliberate and measured. Sufficient time is allocated to the scrutiny of proposals.
5. Efficient and Timely. The decision is reached within a reasonable amount of time and without unnecessary delays, which may be caused by a focus on minutiae and by poorly managed meetings.



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