TregoED Blog

The Scars of Decision Making

Choices have consequences.

Just as wounds in flesh are covered by scar tissue, choices create ramifications—sought and intended…or not.

Making decisions is, truly, making choices…and the laws of inevitability affects the conclusions.

Some decisions yield positive results; some do not.

Consider a small school and the challenges coming from their leader’s decision to safeguard children by requiring parent volunteers to have criminal background checks, child abuse clearances and fingerprint reports completed prior to being allowed any participation in the school.

The decision, made unilaterally, was expanded to mandate that parents would not be allowed to be on school property without all three of those conditions being met…nor would they be allowed to wait on school property for their children participating in after school activities.

While the motivating principles behind the decisions were both laudable and valid… (after all, who among us would want children subjected to individuals with questionable criminal activity in their pasts) BUT– the decisions made lacked the hallmarks prized by good critical thinkers: the decisions were not transparent, visible or defensible.

People subjected to the decisions railed under the perceived lack of collaboration and reason. Parents believed that the rules were draconian and not at all in sync with the culture of the school. While they were forced to comply, the school’s leader may, indeed, have “won the battle but lost the war”.

Parents who feel excluded from critical decisions are less than thrilled about being strong-armed into compliance. The negative push back is exacerbated when the decisions are presented as a “done deal”. Cooperative and supportive parents can quickly morph into adversarial and vociferous constituents rallied around regaining a say in the governance of their children’s schools. This is, assuredly, not a situation that maximizes collaboration. Answering parents’ questions for rationale behind decision by saying “we have a methodology” certainly belongs to a century long removed from this one!

Solid decisions are made by leaders who assess the situation in all its complexity before making a determination. Stakeholders are invited to the table prior to any “final edict” being handed down. While leaders always retain the right to make a final call, wise leaders understand that decisions are best implemented and embraced when the rationale is clear to everyone…visibility and  transparency yield defensibility.

The proven decision making tools offered by TregoED in its leadership training or via its consulting services can assist groups in making solid decisions that are recognized by those living within them as choices made after a clear and understandable process was utilized.

So…what happened to the leader in the school with the “tough policy” designed to protect students?

The leader, with less than two years service to the institution, resigned unexpectedly and bailed from the school…leaving a community with interim leadership implementing the “policy”.

But the result of the poor decision making process remains…as do all consequences coming from any decisions. Long after the actual wound has healed, the scar remains as a reminder of the trauma…don’t let your decisions create scars for your staff, parents or students!