You’ve probably heard this said about a nonprofit executive director: "He can’t make the tough decisions." Or: "We have to make some hard decisions." Why are some decisions called "tough" or "hard"?
Well, such decisions aren’t difficult the way calculus is difficult. Hard decisions often are hard on individuals who will be laid off. But if we understand less-recognized components of hard decisions, we’ll be better able to make them:
- Tough decisions are unpopular . . . it’s hard for leadership to make a decision when there isn’t consensus. And consensus is not always possible to achieve quickly, or perhaps at all.
- Tough decisions require making judgment calls: they need to be made without all the information desirable.
A small start to supporting leadership decision-making is to call tough decisions what they are: unpopular decisions, or decisions that require judgment. Then we’ll understand better what it takes — and what the risks are — to make the judgment calls facing our organizations.
Also in this issue: Six of Our Board Members are in Prison — an inspiring story about a nonprofit prison organization, a fun quiz to determine what kind of Nonprofit Fish you are,Â and a Reader OpEd on software for Form 990. Plus another call for the Six Word Novel Contest. Have fun. –Jan Masaoka