Nudging your board towards better decision-making

If you would like to help your directors to be more effective decision-makers, you will find the Behavioural Government report from the Behavioural Insights Team of interest. While it is sub-titled “Using behavioural science to improve how governments make decisions” it could just as readily have been styled “Using behavioural science to improve board governance“, as it offers a selection of the strategies to mitigate common governance issues e.g.: misdirected focus; framing problems; illusions of similarity and control; and confirmation and optimism biases (pages 11-13).

behav sci and deliberation

The report builds on the Behavioural Insights Team’s past work on applying behavioural insights to policymaking and the Institute for Government’s previous projects on better policymaking. It can be seen as a sequel to the 2010 MINDSPACE report, a joint Cabinet Office and Institute for Government publication.

MINDSPACE offered a (mnemonic) checklist of influences on our behaviour for use when
making policy:

mindspace chart

If your board is anything like the majority of not-for-profit boards, improving your board’s decision-making processes will still be a worthy goal in 2019. We can sometimes fall into the trap of focussing on these processes as purely objective ‘logic chains’ or ‘workflows’, which have the appeal of being idealised, when we know that it’s so often the people who are deliberating on the issue or problem who need to be our focus. That’s where behavioural science has been especially helpful in recent years.

I strongly recommend reading pages 11-13 of the Behavioural Government report, and offer this summary table to entice you to look more closely at the range of strategies offered there to address your governance issues.  You might consider providing your directors with an extract of these three pages, or arranging a workshop to explore use of some of these strategies by your board (contact me on 0419 347 599 if you would like to discuss facilitation).

behav govt strategies



Hallsworth, M., Egan, M., Rutter, J., & McCrae, J. (2018). Behavioural Government: Using behavioural science to improve how governments make decisions. The Behavioural Insights Team.

How behaviours impact your corporate decision-making. BearingPoint Institute. 2016

See also:



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