5 Steps for Decision-Making That Will Vastly Improve Your Board Meetings

by Julia Riseman, JCamp 180 Mentor

Board Meetings are less boring when they are focused on real and substantive decision-making.  Your job as a Board leader or Camp Director is to help guide the Board towards discussions and decisions that matter most, and to remove the clutter of chatter and reporting that takes up too much time.  Here are 5 steps for framing decision-making, and a template for Board agenda items using this framework.  Try it, and you'll see great results.

5 Steps of Problem-Solving

1. State the Problem - Until the group has a clear understanding of the problem, it is meaningless to proceed with a decision.

2. Identify Alternatives - Sometimes your only alternatives are to "do it" or "don't do it." Most of the time you will have several feasible alternatives. Identify the alternatives so that the decision before the Board is better understood.

3. Evaluate the Alternatives - Present the Board with the alternatives, how they were evaluated, the budget impact, and why the current solution is proposed.

4. Make A Decision - Present the Board with the problem, the solution being proposed for a vote, the alternatives and why they are not recommended, the budget impact of the decision, have a discussion, and call the Board to make a decision.

5. Implement the Decision - Part of the implementation phase is a report back to the Board or Board committee on the result of the decision. The Board might state in the minutes when it expects to hear back on the results. The Board's follow up ensures that implementation sticks.

Hint: Use a coversheet for all items being sent in the Board packet in advance of Board meetings.  This coversheet forces everyone to use the framework of these 5 steps and also clarifies what is expected of the Board.

Click here to download a blank coversheet template.

Here is a sample coversheet to give you an idea of what it should look like when it is filled in:

Who or what committee is presenting this report? Jerry Gold, Vice President and member of the Executive Committee
The Issue Executive Compensation Review
Background Information Our ED has not had a formal review of her compensation in over 5 years, not since her promotion from Camp Director to Executive Director. 

What is expected from the Board at this time?

1. VOTE: A proposal for Board Action or Vote

2. DISCUSSION ONLY: A strategic issue for Board discussion and input

3. LISTEN: Information for the Board's education

--Vote expected --

Request that the Board approves forming an Ad Hoc committee of four members (names here) to meet over the next six months to research and review our current executive compensation package and process for evaluation.
Amount of time requested on the agenda 20 minutes
What will happen if no action is taken? Possible low moral and motivation at the top leadership level.
Alternatives considered

We discussed having the Executive Committee take on this task, but felt we were already too busy to do justice to this important process.

We discussed the option of postponing anther year, but that seemed unwise given the length of time since that last review.  

 Who was consulted ED, JCamp 180 Mentor, Governance Committee, and Executive Committee members.
 Budget Impact - if any

It is possible that the Ad Hoc committee may need to pay for a salary report, estimated cost $150.

Down road, the Board may need to reassess salary and compensation for our ED.

Who to contact with questions about this item

Jerry Gold, Board VP,  JGold@yahoo.com