Designing Courses of Action

Let’s look into a specific example as we discuss ways to help participants design courses of action for a shura. Consider a shura where a challenge presents itself in the form of the question “How might we establish a community trust fund that enables us to offset the costs of training and higher education for our youth?”

When we think of constructing a course of action we are trying to express in an easy to understand way a statement that describes an overall approach to cope with or overcome the obstacles associated with a challenge. For the question presented above, we might recommend “Promote buying goods and services from businesses that contribute at least 2 percent of their profits to our community trust fund.”

Now there are other approaches that might be just as good or better. Here are a few other possible recommendations.

1. All community families contribute 1 percent of their earnings on a regular monthly basis;

2. Each person contribute any amount (large or small) either once, occasionally, or on some regular basis;

3. Any person contribute valuable tangible goods like jewelry, coins, property/real estate; and

4. Each person bequeath a portion of their estate through their will.

Frequently, the best course of action is derived from portions of some combination of other courses of action. This is why it is so important to establish a shura environment where everyone’s ideas are considered.

Having a good course of action to work with is enormously valuable. It reduces the complexity and uncertainty of a situation by providing a way to concentrate efforts and resources that make them more effective. It leads to creating policies and actions that are coherent where each builds on top of the other rather than canceling one another out.

For example, if the recommendation where the emphasis is on promoting buying goods and services is selected, then it becomes clear what some of the next steps might be. They include:

1. Informing all community members of the expected benefits of the approach, their roles in it, and the timeline of events;

2. Putting together a promotional campaign that encourages participation by local businesses; and

3. Establishing a system for assessing the level of monthly participation by community members and local businesses.

In summary, a good course of action also informs us of what to do and how to organize. It provides us with the proper response to a challenge or a way through a difficulty.

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