Avoiding ‘organisational Alzheimer’s’

With office bearers changing quite regularly in most not-for-profit organisations, there is a risk of corporate memory loss – and metaphorically suffering ‘neurodegenerative issues’. Consequently, the maintenance and use of key governance document registers is an essential measure. To that end, it is helpful to review which documents qualify for inclusion in these registers.

The hierarchy of key governance documents shown in the header image is a simplified schematic of the way legal requirements drive and constrain your organisation’s constitution, and how by-laws, policies, and other documents nest under, and must be consistent with, higher order requirements specified in external and internal legislation.

Collections or ‘registers’ of all these key governance documents should be readily available for reference by your board and senior management.

Beyond this simplified outline, best practice requires the use of reference systems to ensure that current and complete sets of governance documents are maintained. These documents also need to be regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain up-to-date and relevant.

Where the key documents are sourced externally e.g. legislation, monitoring arrangements need to be in place to ensure compliance with any changed requirements. Where governance documents are created internally, they should have review dates specified at the time they are created. This will usually mean that they are reviewed, and updated if necessary, every three years or so.

The table below illustrates one approach to the creation of a collection of document registers that would collectively preserve your corporate memory, and offer an essential reference for directors and senior personnel. In some instances, staff, volunteers and the public would also need to be given access to selected documents.

Let me know if I can assist you with review or refinement of your ‘corporate memory’ systems.

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