Some Boards have a hard time making decisions. Certainly some decision making does need to take the appropriate time, with accurate information and healthy debate occurring. There are times when decisions need to be postponed or motions tabled HOWEVER if a Board routinely does this there is a problem brewing. Some Boards just will not make decisions, especially if the issue may be contentious.

There are many time times when I receive comments such as ‘if only the Board had made a decision, we wouldn’t have this problem’ In fact; some groups inappropriately take advantage of the Board not being able to make a decision.

The potential damage in not being able to make a decision includes staff, members and/or other stakeholders becoming frustrated by not receiving clear and reliable direction. A first time Board member may believe that an indecisive Board is the norm….. An experienced Board member may become frustrated and take their talents to another Board. Yes, it can be a problem and effecting the organization and a lot of individuals.

So how does one intervene? There are some good examples below:

Encourage the Board to balance the need for caution with the need to be decisive
Encourage the Board to take calculated risks in a timely fashion
Discourage the Board from having to have consensus on every issue because that’s just not going to happen………
Discover other root causes of the foot dragging, perhaps there has been little if any Board meeting management presentations.
Assist the Board in understanding the potential damage consistent indecision is causing

Author's Bio: 

Sixteen years of not-for-profit experience as an Executive Director with a high profile business association complements consulting assignments with over 300 not-for-profits of all sizes and sectors. Significant private sector experience in operations management, financial accounting and marketing management provides many value added benefits to clients.
I am a Certified Association Executive (CAE), a Past Area Governor of Toastmasters International and was educated at the University of British Columbia