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Decision-Making and Authority


Objective 1: Establish and communicate effective and respectful decision-making processes in key areas of operation.


  • Define, communicate broadly and make transparent within the community, administrative and budget authority and approval processes.
  • Define, communicate broadly and make transparent within the community, decision-making processes and authority for housing resources and other non-stipend allocations.
  • Define, communicate broadly and make transparent how decisions regarding practice are made.
  • Determine and make transparent which decisions are appropriate to which lines of authority—administrative, lineage and practice—and how resolution is achieved when multiple lines are involved.
  • Address the complexity and slowness of decision-making at SFZC in order to emphasize results over process.

Objective 2: Create conditions that allow individuals to function effectively in their training positions.


  • Give people the authority vested in their training positions framed by clear benchmarks, clear accountability, feedback and consequences.
  • Make explicit the required committee involvement in guides to training positions.
  • Spread committee involvement across all levels of seniority within Zen Center.
  • Develop good conduct practices (including training in community and conflict resolution skills).
  • Improve leadership development and the transition process between training positions:
    • - clarify training position selection processes;
    • - provide support and training to all managers and administrators; and,
    • - designate a group to hold responsibility for this function.
  • Professionalize certain functions.


Objective 3: Optimize the functioning of the Board of Directors as the governing body for SFZC as an institution.


  • Clarify and acknowledge the policy setting roles, authority and accountability of the Board of Directors for SFZC as an institution.
  • Clarify, acknowledge and implement a process of mutual expectation and accountability between the Board of Directors, the Abbots, and the Officers and Directors.
  • Establish and communicate the charge for each board committee and its membership; clarify officers and directors' role as staff to such committees.
  • Achieve an effective balance between staff and non-staff members serving on the board and committees.

Objective 4: Clarify teaching authority at SFZC.


  • Clarify the roles and teaching of the abbacy and former abbots.
  • Clarify the relationship of lineage authority, institutional dharma authority, and administrative authority.
  • Clarify what SFZC means by teaching authority, how it is bestowed, and its accountability.

Objective 5: Clarify the functioning of the Elders' Council.


  • Clarify the role, authority, membership and rotation of the Elders' Council.
  • Set up guidelines for communication and accountability.