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The Importance of Strategic Decision-Making, Part I

​By Larry Sloan

AIHA’s annual Leadership Workshop was held this past weekend. It’s an exciting time when officers from our Volunteer Groups, Local Sections, and Student Local Sections come together for self-discovery and to learn how they can become more effective group leaders. In addition, it’s a terrific opportunity for volunteers to network with one another as well as the AIHA Board of Directors, which is always looking for “a few good men and women” each year to serve on our governing body and help chart our future direction.

About a month ago, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting hosted by ASAE (the American Society of Association Executives, a group I have been a member of for more than 16 years). Entitled “Symposium for Chief Elected and Chief Executive Officers,” the meeting was designed to help me (the CEO) work more effectively with our volunteer leadership. (I had the pleasure of sitting with both Deborah Nelson, AIHA’s president-elect, and Cindy Ostrowski, AIHA’s vice president.) Throughout this two-day event, the instructors led the group through a broad array of discussion topics, including macro trends affecting associations, a quick overview of Myers-Briggs personality types, board self-assessments, and the leadership of decision-making. For each agenda item, each organization’s leaders had an opportunity to discuss vis-à-vis their own association and to take a critical and honest look at how it was performing against an established ideal. 

I think it’s safe to say we all came away with a greater appreciation of how AIHA is doing (top of the class in our minds!). As a relative newcomer, I came to admire the hard work the Board has invested in developing our current strategic plan and their intention to make it a living document, not just something that sits on a dusty shelf.

Towards the end of the second day, we covered the topic of strategic decision-making. We all agreed that this material would be well suited for leaders of all types—from the AIHA Board to Leadership Workshop attendees.

The decision-making model begins with four basic questions we need to ask ourselves in the context of making a decision:

A Difficult Decision Point: Dealing with Mega-issues
  1. What do we know about our stakeholders’ needs, wants, and preferences that are relevant to this decision? What do we wish we knew but don’t?
  2. What do we know about the current realities and evolving dynamics of our environment that is relevant to this decision? What do we wish we knew but don’t?
  3. What do we know about the “capacity” and “strategic position” of our organization that is relevant to this decision? What do we wish we knew but don’t?
  4. What are the ethical implications?

Source: Tecker International, LLC​

There’s much more to the model, which I’ll cover in subsequent blogs. But for now, think about a challenging decision you may be facing—it could be in your day job, in your role managing a local section or volunteer group, or maybe in your personal life (replace the words “stakeholders” and “organization” with whatever nouns make sense to your situation). Do these questions help you orient your thinking in a different way? Does this process lend itself to making decisions that perhaps won’t leave you wondering if you thought through all the pieces?

Thanks for reading.

Larry Sloan is AIHA’s CEO.


Thanks for being a leader and innovator!

I think it's very positive to see our leader engaging in high level thinking and yet still connecting with us members.  Please continue to work at this and reach out to us all as you've been demonstrating.  I love to see how thoughtful and open you are - both to input and to values.
 on 3/7/2017 4:25 PM by Jonathan Klane | Flag comment for inappropriate content

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