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June 10, 2020

The Pace of Decision Making

Over the past few months, many industries have been forced to adapt to accelerated change. The pace of strategic decision making has increased rapidly while uncertainty clouds our vision of the future. Despite — and because of — disruption, association leaders must be efficient in our decision making and remain focused on the most critical elements that can move us forward.

In the time of COVID-19:
The pace of the crises needs a different set of decision-making ablitilites and the pace can cause a strain on governance and individuals.

In our personal and professional lives, the norm has shifted. We have many daily decisions to make that require new approaches. As member-driven organizations, and it is more important than ever for associations to engage volunteer leaders in these strategic conversations. As priorities change, we are forced to take risks with strained revenue sources, but we also gain opportunities to make changes we may not have been able to prior to COVID-19 circumstances.

How can you sort through the noise to best position your organization for the future?

Clarify responsibilities and tighten up organizational decision making among your senior management team.

First, it is critical that you get your senior team on the same page. Some CEOs set up daily meetings to communicate decisions and new information. Other CEOs meet with their team before all staff meetings to coordinate efforts and agree to talking points. Find the rhythm that works for your team and adjust as necessary.

Communicate regularly with your member leaders ensuring transparency on critical issues and decision making.

Second, keep your member leaders up to speed. Increasing transparency will build trust. But remember to avoid oversharing. Weekly calls that you already have in place might suffice. Alternatively, daily email briefings might be more efficient and practical due to the pace of information and volunteer availability. The important thing is to keep the leadership pipeline informed.

Look at technology, rules, behavior norms, and processes for improvements and impedements.

Third, consider your organization’s systems that may be helping or hindering your decision making. This is an excellent task for a small group of staff who can quickly assess and make recommendations. This crisis might create opportunities to make changes we have wanted to make for a long time. Be bold in implementing the systems your team needs to be successful now and in the future.

Consider with a critical eye those decisions that must be made now and those that can be deferred.

Prioritize your decisions and consider breaking them into these buckets:

Informational/No Action Needed: The decision has been made but you need to share a summary with your board so that they can remain engaged and informed. Defer Decision: The timing for the decision has shifted and/or the environment are uncertain. Discuss, Inform, Decide: Discussion is necessary because it is required in bylaws or another governance document or you need to ensure engagement/ buy-in.

How can you keep your organization on track?

Here are some additional resources you can access to learn more about decision making in a fast-paced environment:

By applying the right mindsets and frameworks, your organization can thrive too. Watch a free webinar featuring my colleague Jon Hockman, CPF, FASAE, and me, for more guidance on decision making and governance in challenging times.


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