Driving Good Decisions

class photo of the 2019 Governance Leadership Institute attendees
Danielle Dyer Photo

2 minutes

CUES Governance Leadership Institute™ lays out the importance of clear criteria and communication for the board.

“How do you make decisions?” The answer to this question is a key takeaway from CUES Governance Leadership Institute™, says Tom Bryk, FCA, FCPA, ICD.D, president/CEO of $3 billion Cambrian Credit Union Ltd., Winnipeg, Manitoba, director in residence at the June session. Participants discussed the duties of the board in making major decisions and the role communication plays in the process.

“Organizations often like to do straw polls at the beginning of a decision-making process,” says Bryk. “This is probably not the best process for a board.”

Instead, boards should focus on determining key decision drivers. “It’s really important to come up with criteria first,” Bryk explains. “What are the three to five criteria that are going to be fundamental to making the right decisions? Once you determine criteria, then you’re in a position to start really understanding the problem.

“Executives should understand the process and criteria, and then they are better able to provide information to the board to make the decision,” he adds.

Open communication among directors and between the board and credit union leadership can also help avoid conflict. “I think that if you lay the process out at the beginning, that's a big part of being able to deal with difficult subjects and difficult positions,” Bryk observes. Additionally, “we in management are dealing with things that are usually a little faster paced, and we think something needs to be done within a certain time period. … Boards should be comfortable slowing the process down to make sure the right decision is reached.”

That may sometimes include re-evaluation. “Boards need to have the ability to step back and say ‘Okay, are we blowing in the wind here, or is there a good reason to change the criteria?’”

Bryk highlights one more important learning point from the program: “The board chair owns process, but the board owns the decision,” he concludes. “I think great chairs do that. Setting out the criteria, setting out timelines—once you have agreement on that, then I think the board is in a position to function at a high level.”cues icon

Danielle Dyer is an editor at CUES.

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