Nothing is more important for credit unions today than making sure that the decisions your board makes support positive outcomes. That’s why implementing a process for evaluation and review of actions and outcomes needs to become a central theme of ongoing board activities.

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Here’s an easy-to-implement 3-question debriefing process you can use:

1. What Worked?

2. What Didn’t Work?

3. What’s next (or what would you do different next time)?

Debriefing actions and outcomes in this fashion will reveal valuable insights that make future efforts more effective. It will also increase the capacity of your board and make them more effective over time. And because the questions are easy to answer and non-threatening, they invite engagement and participation.

There are three specific ways I recommend using this process:

Key Decision Debriefs—Boards can occasionally (sometimes all too often) become detached from the outcomes of their decisions. They provide guidance to the leadership team, which implements the action plan and shares feedback regarding the outcomes. The board reviews the results and provides additional input as needed/requested. But seldom does the board formally look back after learning the results to debrief its decision.

Periodic Action Debriefs—Once a quarter, twice a year, or (at a minimum) once a year conduct a once a year conduct a debrief of the board’s actions and outcomes. This type of candid, open assessment will engage the board in ongoing learning and focus its attention on how to improve both processes and results. Don’t place any limits on the responses in these action debriefs–allow people to freely share their insights with an eye on improvement in the future (which is the purpose of the 3rd question)

Departing Board Member Interview—This one may take longer, but using this process to capture the knowledge of a departing board member will help protect your organization by capturing important insights into (both good and bad) decisions from their tenure on the board. That will help the board leverage past experiences to create better results in the future by avoiding the things that contributed to bad decisions, and it will yield insight into how good decisions were made that contributed to your credit union’s success.

Action advice: Make the 3-step debriefing process a regular part of what your board does, and make an effort to debrief as closely as possible after the results of decisions have been realized.  Keep these debriefs quick, tight and timely, being sure to note obvious gaps, inconsistencies, and misunderstandings. Use these findings to create action items that will improve board operations in the future.  The opportunity for everyone to discuss how better decisions can be made will improve decision making ability and strengthen your board of directors.