Let me paraphrase a leader in Rochester, New York on that City's now-departed Board of Education chief: "...we had a difficult three years because (his) definition of shared decision-making was to make a decision and then share it with others." Exactly. Decisions at our precious continental organization are being made today by the smallest number of people possible -- and if the Chair had it her way (as she most often does), that smallest number would be...one. This is what happens when you are the smartest person in the room -- but even Thomas Jefferson had to share decision-making in his time.
Take the Global Planning Table "process" (yes, take it, please). When the then pre-formed GPT outcome was shared with the JFNA Executive Committee, it was rejected, with almost unanimity. But, the "decider" (under the Bushian definition) determined not only to ignore the Executive Committee discussions (probably characterizing that "debate" as just another "feedback session" even though the Chair was so off-put that during the Executive Committee deliberations, she attempted to cross-examine the CEO from JFNA's largest Dues-payer to show how much more she knows on the subject than she). The "new compromises" now on the table in the same manner as the pea in a shell game may offer comfort to some but hide the reality that JFNA's leaders persist in the belief that they "know best" as to all things,
Almost all of us know that the more owners/shareholders/members engaged (really engaged) in shared decision-making, the greater engagement and the greater support for the ultimate decisions arising out of that process. JFNA believes in something called "crowd-sourcing" in the jargon of the day -- hearing from multiple voices and choosing what sounds the best, not what is the best. This also should mean that sometimes, the pre-formed decisions of any organization's leaders will have to be set aside. The worst thing that a leader can do is to ignore the will of the membership or shortly the organization will have none.
There is nothing wrong in leaders attempting to forge consensus. What I heard during the JFNA Board meeting presentations on Wednesday demonstrated a desperation totally unbecoming leadership -- misrepresentations of facts, suppression of all facts in contradiction of the Chair's and the CEO's narrative, disregard of arguments presented at "feedback sessions'....and more of the same. This is a leadership so used to getting its way, so demanding of getting its way, that it finds it impossible to engage in fair debate...impossible to understand that an idea that they have may not be acceptable to those who own the organization.