These series of recommendations talk about my soon to be world famous acronym for how a board should make a decision. This is the first in the series and we are starting with A for authority. This is the first step in any decision. The question to be answered is “do we have the authority to make this decision?” Obviously if the answer is no we are done with this decision, because it is not ours to make.
The concept of “scope of authority” has a legal background and is based on which laws are applicable to your organization. Here is an example. Maybe your group decides that it is ok to smoke in a room which you rent for your meetings. To decide if you have the authority to make this decision you would consider if there are any federal, provincial or municipal laws or regulations that either back-up your decision or prohibit your decision. I expect that you will find that you do not have the authority to make this decision.
When you ask this question at the beginning of the decision-making process you save some time, as you will avoid making decisions that you are not allowed to make.