First, let's review the purpose of the
Consent Agenda. Then, I'll share a partial dialogue of a board meeting
that will help give a grasp of how the Consent Agenda is used in a real
John Carver on Leadership, p. 140,
Consent Agenda is a method by which the board officially performs a ritual
approval of actions for which it has already assigned authority to the CEO."
"Often, these are required by law or other authorities." "The board
makes the decision, but does not treat it as one of substance." For an
even more in depth discussion of the Consent Agenda, the article "The
Consent Agenda and Responsible Rubber-Stamping" in the same book should be
I find the problem not with the logic of
the Consent Agenda but the process by which it is handled. Individual
board members will often want to discuss a particular item, not to decide on
it just to discuss it. This places the chair in an awkward position.
It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it isn't what the board decided.
By the item being on the Consent Agenda, the board has said there will be no
Board Meeting Dialogue:
The following is a sample dialogue from a board meeting as
the Consent Agenda is discussed.
Chair: The next item for
us is the Consent Agenda.
Member - Ella Jane: I
move that the board approves the Consent Agenda.
Member - Dee: Before we
do that I’d like to discuss an item.
Chair: Dee, you would
need to first make a motion to remove an item from the Consent Agenda so
that we can then discuss it, but I see no items on the list require a
discussion. If you believe one of them may cause the executive to exceed a
limitation, then we should move the item off the agenda. Is that your
Member - Dee: I don’t
want to approve it, and no I don’t think it will cause the executive to
exceed a limitation, I’d just like to ask a question.
Chair: Would you mind
asking the question outside of the meeting. I would like to make sure that
we have as much time as possible for our other topics. The items on the
Consent Agenda are to be items that need no discussion or require board
approval, not by the wish of the board but by an outside organization.
Member - Dee:
I’ll ask my question outside of the meeting.
Chair: Thank you. There
has been a motion to approve the Consent Agenda.
Director - George: I
second the motion.
Chair: All those is
favor say “Aye.”
All Directors: Aye