Developing Organizational Governance

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February 28, 2013

Governing boards may have fiduciary responsibility for the organization, but senior leadership is responsible for leading and educating the board. These boards range greatly in understanding, processes, and sophistication, yet all  have need for continued learning.

When I say learning about governance I mean investigating where the governing board needs to go. Certainly some members likely have their own learning agenda. Boards, as a whole,  tend to have development needs in two areas: Policy/Processes and Continuing Education.

Often learning includes internal discovery around how they work and think together, but often their learning agenda is more basic:

  • Governance v. management;
  • Board structure, objectives, dynamics;
  • Board committee functions;
  • Board policies and functions to maintain awareness of governance requirements;
  • Stewardship;
  • Board education and training;
  • Proper assignment of accountabilities and performance management;
  • Community advocacy;
  • Mission, vision, values;
  • Strategic planning;
  • Organization mergers;
  • Claiming the fiduciary role and fiscal accountability;
  • Disclosures, conflicts, and ethics;
  • Governance components and their effectiveness;
  • Management evaluation and compensation;
  • Reporting transparency; and
  • Corporate best practices

These are not the only issues. Frequently I am called upon to brainstorm with CEOs and board chairs on board operations, facilitate board discussions and retreats, and to help identify and resolve board issues.

Working with organization boards and governance issues is a specialty area and there are many fine advisors available. Smaller boards generally cannot afford the mid-tier and high end advisory firms and tend to use boutique advisory companies well-suited to crafting solutions that fit within the scope of resources available.