How to give the board more confidence in your plans

Board & management papers

2 min read

“Information is power.” Or is it?

Think about the last time somebody overloaded you with information in the hope that you’d feel “empowered” enough to make a decision. Or, on the contrary, they omitted some key details to try and “focus” your thinking — meaning you had to fill in the gaps before drawing a conclusion.

In either case, no doubt the imbalance of information slowed down your decision-making process and left you with more questions than answers.

Information is only power when it’s given in the right measures, and this rings especially true when sharing information with the board, in the hope that they’ll sign off on your plans.

With that in mind, how can you provide the right balance of information to the board, and increase your chances of getting the outcome that you want? The solution sits with your approach to decision papers.

Your plans may be sound — but will your decision paper do them justice?

Decision papers are the starting point for boards and committees when they’re doing their job to the fullest effect, that is, “making the choices that shape, for good or ill, a company’s future.” A well-written decision paper, therefore, has the power to demonstrate the rigour of your thinking and put your plans in motion. But when done poorly, a decision paper is where even the best plans go to die.

What’s more, producing a poor decision paper is easier than most would think. We consulted a range of board members and advisors when writing our Definitive Guide to Decision Papers, and found the below to be the five most common pitfalls:

  1. Not fully clarifying what you need from the board
  2. Excluding the “why now” element from your proposal
  3. Failing to state the full implications of your proposal
  4. Omitting the other options for consideration
  5. Including too much of the wrong information
“The quality of your papers cannot be just the report writers’ responsibility — you need a structure that makes their success inevitable.” ~ Graham Donoghue, CEO, Sykes Cottages

How can you avoid these easy-to-make mistakes?

In this Definitive Guide to Decision Papers, several FTSE company leaders share how they, and their organisations, avoid making these errors — from rules on paper length to a fail-safe structure for communicating your thinking. You’ll also find a complete checklist of what to include, what to leave out, and examples of best practice. Getting your decision papers to meet the mark is no quick fix. But follow this guide carefully and you’ll feel better equipped to cover your bases, without drowning in detail — giving yourself the best chance of getting a “yes” from the board.

Download your copy here:

  The definitive guide to decision papers    Before you write your next decision paper, use this framework to save time and  cover every base. Download the guide


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