Internal decision making practices: doesn’t sound exciting, but oh so important

December 7, 2010

Last week , I lamented  “Why am I still surprised at the number  of organizations that don’t follow the most basic ‘good practices’ for internal decision-making?” A colleague replied that he was “actually looking for a guideline to those” and did I have any recommendations.  As a quick search of my files on and offline didn’t produce what I was looking for, I drafted these:

1.       Determine who needs to be part of the communication loop: When you are about to start a new initiative or make a significant organizational decision, consider a broad universe of who should be involved in some way:  Who should be part of the decision-making? Who should be consulted? And who should be kept apprised?  A large international NGO I worked with developed a chart with each of its (many) organizational stakeholders and then discussed how different groups would generally be involved in different types of decisions.    The list of stakeholders will be unique to each organization but could include Board, volunteer groups (committees, task forces, etc…),  senior staff, other staff groupings, etc…  Just the process of having this discussion will help the organization’s leadership to become more aware of the types of communication that will be needed.

2.       Develop an internal communications plan: The plan should detail who you will communicate with (as noted above) for what purposes and what approximate timeframes will be used throughout the decision-making process.  Make this widely available.

3.       Utilize the communications plan on a regular basis: When you keep your stakeholders involved in decision-making processes in some way (even if it’s just keeping them apprised of the key issues and timeframes) it will make it easier to implement the eventual decisions.  Many decision-making ‘how to’ articles will instruct you to explore different perspectives, but not necessarily the importance of actually engaging your stakeholders, and the positive impacts on the  ‘post decision’ period.

4.       Special importance to geographically spread or culturally diverse organizations:  Although these are good practices for any organization to follow, they are especially important for geographically spread or culturally diverse organizations.  In these cases the chances of people being left out of the communication loop are greater, and thus greater attention should be paid to ensuring that this does not happen.

These are a few of my basic  ‘good practices’.  What would you add to this list?  As I am a big believer in the practical usage of simple ‘check lists’  I will create a PDF for any one who might find it useful with the ‘final’ list.