This month I had the pleasure, once again, of running the Governance Surgery at the Trade Association Forum Best Practice Exchange. Each year, we prove that more than two heads are better than one as we discuss the governance issues which are concerning Chief Executives and Senior Managers from a wide range of organisations.
In previous years we’ve looked at (among other things) skills auditing; measuring board effectiveness; board inductions; getting the most out of your board. This time we looped back to 2013 when we looked at some common issues in a session we called ‘Pain, purpose & potential’ - which I remember as being quite lively! And this year was no different, with those at the session offering advice and solace to their fellows, especially the comfort of knowing they are not alone.
This year, three different triggers got me thinking about the theme for our discussions. Firstly, the recent Halloween festivities forcibly put me in mind of skeletons in cupboards and the sorts of things I unearth when I carry out full governance audits, some of which have been deeply buried for a long time and, often, very deliberately.
I also came across two quotes I hadn’t seen for a while and which felt very relevant:
Douglas Adams - "I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by"
Dalai Lama - “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly”
And thirdly, the Charity Commission has finally published its new guidance code which now acknowledges that third sector organisations of all kinds (not just charities which end up in the public eye because they implode for various reasons) should submit to external governance reviews every three years as a minimum.
All of this made me wonder how many of the non-profit organisations out there are actually in a good place. For example, are they ready for the implementation of GDPR – for which we’ve had a lot of advance warning - and which we are NOT going to discuss here – and how ready would they also be for any other (unexpected) change coming down the pipeline in the next couple of years. Because I think we can fairly well guarantee that ‘business as usual’ is not where we are going.
I’ve been working recently with a variety of CEOs and their range of difficulties illustrate very well the dilemmas that lots of organisation are facing:
- strains being created because of uncertainty
- falling membership numbers & income as a result of unclear market conditions
- stresses being caused by lack of resources – both money and staff.
CEOs and their SMTs are spending more and more time on strategy and prioritisation and SERIOUSLY not needing added stress about their governance structures or boards which don’t really know what is expected of them or how to achieve it.
So perhaps the questions that we need to think and talk about are simply these:
1 How can your organisation be sure it is in the best place regarding its current governance arrangements? You can download this guide “7 things to do NOW to go from OK to Excellent Governance” as a starter.
2 Do you know how long and how much effort it would take to audit/review those arrangements and be sure you are ready to tackle what is coming? Just give me a call to benefit from my end of year offer – a two-day Fixed term/Fixed fee Governance Review.
In other words – get an immediate grip on your governance!!
If you need help with any governance, strategic or operational issues in your organisation or you are not sure what to tackle first, just call me and we will get your show on the road together.