Over the last few years I have been exploring diverse ways of building high performance boards. On a practical level this has involved observing approaches that help board members to be more aware of their various roles, responsibilities and duties and applying this understanding to how they perform their roles on the ground. As part of the project I shadowed a few boards in the United States and saw how they recorded their decisions in real time and projected the decisions on the big screen for all to see. I was really struck by this as a lesson in transparency in decision making.
In December last year I came across another board in England that had the same practice and became even more curious about what was behind this practice. I was impressed by the manner in which decisions were arrived at and recorded and found out that this is a familiar practice in Quaker meetings, described as the Quaker Business Method. Following discussion, minutes are written, agreed by everyone within the meeting and remain the unchanged formal record. No ‘matters arising’ occur in future meetings in relation to decisions made.
This practice is referred to in more detail in an accessible publication produced by Quaker Social Action, following a year long enquiry into what the ‘Q’ Bit mean. Quaker Social Action has produced a highly readable booklet called “ The ‘Q’ Bit – At the Heart of a Quaker-led Organisation “. There is a link to the document on the QSA website. Chapter 4 explains the Quaker Business Method, its aims and how it works.
This is an invaluable tool in a kit of any organisation or group wishing to expand its transparency practice. I still marvel at its simplicity and effectiveness!