Tips to Avoid Bracket Busting

As March Madness ends this coming Monday, I find myself disappointed with the total failure of my NCAA basketball brackets this year.  For those of us who do these each year know, there were the typical upsets that hurt most of us but made a few of us heroes. Most of my bad picks this year were based on emotional, instinctual decisions – like picking my favorite teams to go much further than was likely or picking the wrong underdog based on “you just like them.” Sometimes these gut instincts make you a bracket winner – but sometimes, you drop out quickly.

It made me think about how leaders frequently make decisions – some based on objective analysis, but some based on emotional gut instincts without any framework to support them. And making poor choices can lead to bad outcomes and not so good leadership.

Gut instincts work occasionally – but do you want to count on it all the time? I think not. Think about how your board of directors – do they follow a process that ensures it will make the best decision at the time?

Over the years, I have observed really good decision-making processes that help boards use filters and other metrics to help with making wise choices.  I recently read an article on Forbes (by Mike Myatt) that had some good ideas that I’d like to summarize.

Seven questions to ask when making a decision:

  1. Why are we looking at this issue? What would happen if we didn’t take any action at all? What research or objective information might be available to validate your decision?
  2. Think about what your members would about this decision. And, if it would impact the public or your image with the public, what would they think about it? Would it be embarrassing for your association?
  3. Is the proposal you’re considering aligned with your values, mission, vision, and/or strategic plan?
  4. Can you afford it?
  5. If there is risk involved, can you overcome it with the potential reward?
  6. Is it the right thing to do – even if you get some no’s to the questions above? Sometimes the courageous decision is the best.
  7. Do you have a backup plan if it’s a dismal failure? (March Madness doesn’t give you too many options here – but you have more power than those brackets!)

Five Whys. This is another well-known technique for problem-solving. Here are the “5 whys” I used for a recent planning session and it’s one you can plug in your own problem to help you analyze and reach a good decision, and you can use it for any topic or issue. Each answer to a “why” leads to another why, which eventually leads to the remedy or outcome you’re looking for.

  1. Why? Do we plan for change?
  2. Why? Because we want to better.
  3. Why Because we have fewer volunteers and less participation and we need to change that.
  4. Why? Because we want to be more relevant.
  5. Why? Because we want to succeed.

What’s the remedy? We find solutions to impact positive change.

Whatever system, filter, technique that you use is okay – as long as it helps your leaders make the best decision that is the right one for your association. Try one soon if you haven’t used something similar before. And share yours with me so I can share your successes with others (and maybe we’ll all do better in our brackets next year).

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