- too much meeting time spent on operational details;
- the feeling we are just “rubber-stamping” CEO’s decisions;
- board members wearing multiple “hats”;
- re-hashing the same conversations over and over again;
- never enough time to study meeting materials beforehand;
- lack of clear distinction between strategy vs. tactics;
- disagreement with the CEO on how to achieve goals;
- lack of information needed to make decisions;
- distrust between Directors who seem to have different amounts of information and power;
- tension between Directors trying to represent different agendas;
- a tendency to focus on the past rather than the future;
- lack of focus, or shortage of time at board meetings;
- very little connection or engagement with ownership or membership;
- too much “politics,” not enough progress;
- no feeling of control over the organization;
- board member burnout or high board turnover rate;
- an ad hoc approach; little or no consistency with how board operates.
As CEO, Executive Director, or staff member of a corporation (profit or non-profit), have you ever experienced any of the following difficulties?
- conflicting instructions from two or more Directors;
- lots of time and resources spent obtaining board approval for projects and management initiatives;
- unwanted involvement from Directors in day-to-day issues;
- lack of understanding and trust between the Board and CEO or staff;
- frustration with lack of resources allocated by the Board to achieve its objectives (“Do more with less!”);
- difficulty anticipating what information is wanted by the board;
- heavy involvement by the Board in staff (non-CEO) hiring, firing and payment decisions;
- board seems disengaged, or doesn’t follow its own rules;
- vision, direction and expectations set by the board lack clarity or consistency.
If these challenges strike a familiar chord, you are not alone. While your organization is unique, thousands of boards and CEOs experience some or all of the frustrations listed above. Many organizations survive and function in spite of these problems, while some, like Enron and WorldCom, eventually collapse under the weight of their own poor corporate governance practices.
Wait, Who Said Governance Was Easy?
Let’s face it. Governance – the job of a board of directors – is not an easy thing to do, especially since it must be accomplished by a group of people working together. Well-intentioned, intelligent and competent directors frequently become frustrated, disillusioned, bored and tired when they have no clear or shared job description, and when they must struggle through defective meeting processes. (Video: What is Governance?)
Governance Dysfunction? Suffer No More
Good governance practices, however, can be learned and used by your board, enabling it to drive results and progress on behalf of your ownership. Dysfunctional governance need not be the norm! We have seen the positive benefits that training has given directors and staff alike. (Watch the video on this page outlining the benefits of using Policy Governance principles). We know governing boards and their organizations can succeed at making a difference in this world, and we are here to help you to replace frustration and futility with enthusiasm and possibility.
Consider Using a Governance System
Our research and experience have shown that Policy Governance® is the most elegant and logical system of governance yet to be designed. Designed by Dr. John Carver, in use by boards around the world, and touted by Sir Adrian Cadbury as “near a universal theory of governance as we at present have,” the Policy Governance system brings new and often startling clarity to board and CEO roles and relationships and the policy development process. Practical for boards of all types and sizes, its logical set of principles can help businesses and organizations to maximize progress, profit, productivity and accountability, and to minimize risk, waste and exposure, all at the same time.
How Do We Start?
If you wish to begin earning the dividends of good governance, Brown Dog Consulting recommends that you take the following steps:
- Expose the entire board and CEO, plus senior staff, your accountant, lawyer, auditor, major funder(s) and other key stakeholders if possible, to a full one-day workshop (or two half-day workshops) on Policy Governance. (Contact us for a free consultation on what type of workshop would meet your needs.)
- Decide, as a board, to implement Policy Governance principles.
- If the board chooses to adopt these principles, expect two or three full days of policy development. Then you are ready to “go live”!
- As new directors join the board and to ensure the smoothest possible transition, take advantage of Policy Governance 101 or orientation workshops, “refreshers,” and coaching tools and services.
Above All, Use a Qualified Consultant
When seeking a qualified Policy Governance consultant, ensure first that he/she attended Dr. John Carver’s and Miriam Carver’s Policy Governance Academy. Demonstration of a commitment to high quality Policy Governance implementation and continual learning through membership in the International Policy Governance Association is important as well, along with strong group facilitation skills and a comprehensive, well-tested and fine-tuned training system. Brown Dog Consulting offers all of these benefits, and much more. (See Brown Dog Testimonials on the About page.)