Eli Mina Consulting
  Building better decision making teams and leaders


Questions We Consider About Decision Making Structures

Questions we consider about your team's mandate:

  • Is the mandate current and relevant to today's realities?
  • Is the mandate substantial, ambitious, and compelling?
  • Is it realistic and achievable?
  • Is it widely known, understood and supported, or is it ignored?
  • Is it prominently evident in the way meetings are planned and run?
  • Is it in need of review and update?

Questions we consider about the allocation of decision making powers:
  • What decisions can be made and at what level?
  • Are decision making powers clearly documented, or passed on by word of mouth?
  • Are committees given decision making power or are they advisory? Do they know it?
  • Do individuals and committees routinely exceed their decision making powers?
  • Do senior executives hold on to power and try to force every decision that counts?
  • How much conflict is caused by decision making powers not being clearly articulated?

Questions we consider about the size and composition of a decision making team:
  • Is the team too large to engage members in decision making in a meaningful way?
  • Is it too small to achieve diversity and succession planning?
  • Is the team sufficiently representative of constituents in the larger community?
  • Do your governing documents require regional representation? Should they?
  • Is it time to re-evaluate your team's size and composition?

Questions we consider about team member & leader selection processes:
  • Are the Chair and each team member selected on merit?
  • Is enough done to attract the right people to the decision making team?
  • Do you balance the need for fresh faces with the need for continuity on the team?
  • How significant are personal popularity or "politics" in the selection process?
  • If members are elected: Are your nomination and election processes appropriate?

Questions we consider about team orientation & on-going education:
  • Do you conduct a meaningful orientation program?
  • Do you provide refresher programs and regular updates on current issues?
  • Do you clarify roles, accountability, and "rules of engagement"?
  • Do you discuss the obligation to place collective interests ahead of narrow interests?
  • Do you discuss the minority's obligation to respect collective decisions?
  • Do you discuss conflict of interest guidelines?
  • Do you discuss the risks of leaks of confidential information?
  • Do you assign mentors to new members?
  • Is your team sophisticated and empowered, or is it just "pooling its ignorance"?

Questions we consider about the effectiveness of the team leader (Chair):
  • Does the Chair force decisions or facilitate decision making?
  • Is the Chair dominant and having trouble letting go of control?
  • Is the Chair passive, allowing the "tyranny of the minority" and "free-for-all" meetings?
  • Does the Chair maintain "a bird's eye view" and advise members of broader perspectives?
  • Is the Chair a good role model for everyone to follow?
  • Does the Chair train successors? Does he or she know when to step down?
  • Does the Chair serve as a mentor and coach for newer team members?

Questions we consider about the effectiveness of team members:
  • Does the individual work as a "loose canon" or a member of a team?
  • Does the member pull his or her own weight and contribute to the team's success?
  • Does the member make the effort to learn about issues and fully prepare for meetings?
  • Does the member have the courage to ask tough and unpopular questions?
  • Is the member prepared to listen and learn from other perspectives?

Questions we consider about the team's relationship with support staff:
  • Does the team give staff the authority and tools to implement its decisions?
  • Does the team tend to "micromanage" the staff?
  • Do professional staff members give dispassionate advice, or do they dominate?
  • Is it safe for staff to give professional advice without fear of consequences?
  • Does the team have a formal evaluation process for the chief staff officer?
  • Is the team's relationship with staff built solely on trust, or also on due diligence?

Questions we consider about the team's relationship with subordinate committees:
  • Are committees established casually or do they have clear mandates and schedules?
  • Are committees held accountable? Do they assume powers not given?
  • Do some committees wield more power than the governing body?
  • Do committees continue to exist in perpetuity, without an end in sight?
  • Should some committees be replaced by short-mandate focus groups?

Questions we consider about the team's relationships with the larger community:
  • Are the community and stakeholders given early warnings about significant decisions?
  • Are the community and stakeholders consulted when their input would be useful?
  • Are community consultation initiatives undertaken for appeasement only?
  • Are there efforts to hear from "the silent majority"?
  • Are you over-consulting the community?

Questions we consider about feedback and dispute resolution processes:
  • How often do team members receive feedback?
  • How often do you celebrate successes?
  • How decisively do you intervene to deal with counter-productive behaviours?
  • Do you have disciplinary procedures in place?
  • Do you have mechanisms to prevent, detect and resolve disputes?

Questions we consider about a team's ethics, culture & "rules of engagement":
  • Do you have conflict of interest guidelines? Are they understood and followed?
  • Do you have confidentiality guidelines? Are they understood and followed?
  • Do you have a code of ethics and a set of values that are endorsed by the team?
  • Are collective decisions made by "majority" or by "consensus"?
  • Do members get confused between "Robert" and "Carver"?
  • Do you have a true democracy? Or is it "monarchy" or "anarchy"?
  • If there is a formal voting structure: Are votes allocated fairly and equitably?


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