Governance is about skills too!

This is the second of two 'turn-of-the-year' posts written in my alter ego of "Wise Owl" guest blogger for the MemberWise Network Blog.   Both are written with the Chief Executives and senior managers of non-profit organisations in mind.

We learn today that, following recent shocking revelations about the activities of those at the top of the Co-operative Group, former Treasury Minister Lord Myners has been appointed as an independent non-executive director to the board.  He will bring his extensive experience in business and public life to the problems the organisation is currently dealing with and will head up its review into the way the organisation is run.  In an interview he tells us that, in real terms, the various parts of the group are functioning well but concerns remain over the governance standards and structures which have evolved over time including the make-up of the board, appointment processes and how it is chaired.  There is, he says, a realisation that they need to modernise and that legacy issues have contributed to current issues.

For those of us working in non-profit organisations, did this ring a few recognition bells?   How many of us are aware that our organisations are doing fairly well on a day-to-day basis but have governance structures which are either in need of, at best, a root and branch review or, at worst, a complete overhaul?  How long have the current structures been in place and how long is it since they were examined to see if improvements could be made?

Hoping that you can avoid the risks that inertia brings is not the most effective way to run an organisation.   Refreshing long term, static membership of boards can generate new enthusiasm, bring in new expertise and regenerate opportunities for development.

Bringing real life expertise and experience onto boards can be cathartic.  Boards which contain over representation from the sector the organisation represents may mean that there may be gaps in the overall skill set which the board can contribute.  Co-opting for missing skills is a real alternative – but you do need to carry out the skills audit first.

If any of this is striking a chord then your New Year’s resolution may just have written itself.  Time to deal with those underlying issues!

If you need to talk any of this through then arrange for a pre-review discussion.

Happy and successful New Year to one and all.

Read more of the Wise Owl and MemberWise articles here.