What Do You Want?

Effective Decision Making

*As I write this I have assumed that time in prayer and the advice of wise counsel is already a part of your decision making process.  

The best leadership books I’ve read all seem to have an ability to take an idea or principle that has been floating around in my head, unformed and undefined, and transforming it from an intuitive hunch into an executable idea.  The books that have made the biggest impact don’t tend to pass along new information. Instead they have the knack for giving solid form to preexisting but intangible ideas. They provide “handles” that allow you to grasp the idea and really use it.

This past week I read The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker, and there were a few moments when the book did just that.

One of those moments was when Drucker was discussing decision making and he introduced and defined the term “Boundary Conditions”

If I understood it correctly boundary conditions are the objectives the decision has to reach for the results of the decision to be considered successful.  Boundary conditions ask the question, “What are the minimum goals this decision has to attain?”   They help to bring clarity to the things that really matter and keep the nonessentials in the background where they belong.

This was especially helpful to me because I am in the middle of a huge decision.  We are in the process of identifying and hiring our next worship pastor at Hulen Street Church.  Throughout the process I have been operating under assumed boundary conditions, goals and objectives that have been floating around in my head but I had never sat down and codified.  As I am in the process of making this decision I thought I would be helpful if I put the objectives for this hire down on paper.


As you read them remember these are the conditions that allow the decision maker to stay focused on the critical criteria that should direct the decision.  As I began to put these conditions down on paper I had to resist the temptation to get “granular” by defining every little desire I have and responsibility I want this new staff member to fulfill.While there are other responsibilities I would like our new worship pastor to be able and willing to do (ie. facilities management, youth worship, and general administration) they are not the critical responsibilities that will have the greatest impact on the church.  That being the case these are the criteria (from most important to least) I am using to focus my thinking in the decision making process.   These are the things we have to have, the rest (if we can get them) are just gravy.

4 Boundary Conditions for the Worship Pastor at Hulen Street Church

We are seeking to hire a Worship Pastor…

…who exhibits a greater desire to worship God and pastor people than to be on a platform.

…that has a high value of excellence and can establish, maintain, and hold others accountable to those same standards.

…who has the musical ability to continuously improve the musicianship of our band through coaching and training.

…who has the knowledge (or the willingness to gain the knowledge needed) to enhance the physical worship environment through media and technology.

Not only do boundary conditions help to define the desired result of the decision, but they are also useful in the information gathering portion of the decision making process.   For instance, if you were trying to decide who to hire or which direction to go you could use the boundary conditions to formulate 4-5 different questions or hypothetical situations that would come at each condition from a different angle.  Questions crafted from boundary conditions, and the answers they provide, are much more able to inform your decision

Are you facing a decision?  Chance are you already have a set of boundary conditions floating around in your head, but have you taken the 30 minutes needed to sit down to define them and refine them?  When you consider the months or even years that you will have to live with your decision, 30 minutes doesn’t see too much to give to help make it a good one.

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