Reasons to Use Policy Governance

 

Thirty years ago, Dr. Henry C. King, then Curator of the McLaughlin Planetarium at the Royal Ontario Museum, said to me (Robert Ballantyne), "Robert, what you need to know about boards is that they are like the gods on Mount Olympus: very powerful, and very trivial."

Having sat on numerous boards, and presided over several, I have discovered what he meant by "trivial" and "powerful." In many organizations, the most dysfunctional part of the organization is the board. The members have the authority, but they do not know how to use it or what it is for. Even people who are successful in their own career may seem to flounder while serving on a community board. Since the seats on non-profit boards are unpaid positions, there seems to be the assumption that there needs to be no training for the job. Sometimes this assembly presides over a corporation that has a profound impact on its community and an organization with a budget in the millions of dollars. Shouldn't they learn to govern with real integrity?

When things have worked well, it is usually because the personalities involved were determined to make it work and they were lucky. Fortunately, this is frequently the case.

Over the past couple of decades there have been wonderful developments in management. Managers seem eager to implement these new techniques. Yet, our boards are mired in tradition.

Many of us have discovered that Policy Governance provides a reason and a method for the board to function efficiently and effectively. It requires learning new skills and the discipline to govern as a fiduciary.

Some reasons to consider Policy Governance:

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