Sabbatical postcard – board decisions, how hard can they be anyhow?

Today brings another round of ‘journalism’ telling us that we live in a time of more information than ever before, and yet more social media messages urging us to think there is no mystery that can’t be solved if we google it hard enough or crowd-source the problem to enough people in enough places.  That’s all great optimistic stuff, and on many of life’s daily trials, we’d definitely agree – after all, we’ve been our own IT geeks for all these years and solved those issues with only the wisdom of the web to guide us.

But at the risk of sounding like founding members of the flat earth society, it’s a good time to remember that many decision makers face choices that are – quite genuinely – a great deal more complex.

Its routine to the point of being humdrum in our work with clients: the decisions on which we advise boards are often only one item on their weighty agenda at a given time, but it’s not at all unusual for us to be drawing on multiple points of law or an array of enterprise considerations in juggling what is best for that organisation and the people that are their clients, supporters, staff, and so on.

Good example: not so long ago, we presented on one board decision that was governed by at least 8 pieces of state and federal legislation, and the the Australian Constitution.  That’s long way from the most complex we’ve covered, but this time, we did give ourselves a pat on the back for being able to reduce it to a two page board paper.

Of course, not every decision is difficult or complex, but if the problem has been around for a while, good chance it is actually hard to solve and progress won’t be helped by starting the discussion with ‘How hard can it be?’  So more power to the arm of any board member willing to think first about what decision, precisely, it is that the board needs to make, or what action may be the sole province of that board at that time.