How to Write Well-Prepared Board Decision Papers

Decision papers provide boards with the information they require to understand, formulate and make the crucial decisions that mould a company’s future. However, when these papers are not properly prepared, they can be overwhelming in terms of details and length, leading to poor decision making.

Keep your board documents concise and concise. Directors generally have limited time to review your documents and they might not have the same information that you do. It is therefore essential to weed out excessive operational detail, rely on clear arguments instead of long explanations, and use only facts rather than opinions.

A good structure to a decision paper starts with the background to the issue that needs the decision, and then guides directors through their argument, focusing on links to strategy, risks and financial information. This structure is similar to a traditional story and helps directors comprehend the viewpoint of the company.

You should also include a summary of any existing issues that might be connected to the proposal. This section is a crucial part of the decision document and gives directors the confidence that they’re reading information that is complete, valid and up-to-date. Before the meeting it’s best to hold a discussion with the board members that will be going through the document to ensure all the information and aspects are considered. This will help you to determine what needs to be addressed and, if necessary, discuss possible outcomes or alternatives with the board.

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