I’ve seen boards fail to make decisions. In doing so, happenstances went on to make decisions for them. I’ve seen boards make quick decisions. Sometimes those were poor decisions. I’ve seen boards make rubber-stamp decisions. The CEO owned them, and not the board.

Someone once asked a seasoned leader about how he learned to make good decisions. His answer was simple: bad decision. We learn from our mistakes. Here are some decision making principles that may help us make fewer bad decisions, and get on with the good one. Good decisions…

  • Support an organization’s mission
  • Are consistent with the organization’s values
  • Follow a solid understanding of the issues involved
  • Often engage a measure of outside guidance
  • Consider alternative choices
  • Make the best choice for the long-term good
  • Explore possible unintended consequences
  • Are made in a timely manner
  • Are supported by all members once the decision is made

Just as an airplane pilot goes through a check list before moving on down the runway, using this checklist in decision making could made the difference between good and bad decisions, or good and best decisions.

What do you think about having your board engage in a conversation about decision making? How do you, or should you, make decisions. Boards of faith-based organizations may also want to think about what Christians often describe as “discernment” in a decision making process. How does that work? Talk away, everyone!

If you would like to get a better handle on governance, I simply offer a shameless plug for my book, Board Essentials: 12 Best Practices of Board Governance. A friend who chairs both a corporate and a nonprofit board suggests it as a great primer.

About Dave Coleman

Dave Coleman Principal / Consultant Phone: 253-237-4118 After many years of nonprofit leadership and the privilege of getting to know hundreds of organizations through my work with the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, I am pleased to offer my services to you at BoardTrek Nonprofit Consulting. Our small Pacific Northwest based company is focused on helping guide nonprofit organizations and their leaders into the future by offering our services in board governance, strategic planning, leadership development and organizational change. Always feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions.
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