Sledgehammer or scalpel? Governance capability development

(Part 3 – ‘Duty of Care, Skill and Diligence’ series) “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” Abraham Maslow While it may seem obvious that non-profit directors require a set of skills to perform their duties, elections or appointments… Continue reading Sledgehammer or scalpel? Governance capability development

Between Altruism and Greed

‘Self interest’ and ‘vested interests’ are central to governance of conflict of interest within non-profit organisations. Boards elected by members of a profession or industry rightly see their role as addressing member needs – often with a focus on members’ economic success or survival. While the conflict (or perception of conflict) between a director’s personal… Continue reading Between Altruism and Greed

Complexity – the view from the Chair

Those of us who have had the privilege of chairing meetings know that the view from that seat is entirely different from that of participants. “Like playing multi-dimensional chess” is the analogy sometimes used, as it evokes the multi-focal nature of effective chairing practice. The chair’s role inviting participants to speak and vote on motions… Continue reading Complexity – the view from the Chair

Giving ‘diligence’ its due

(Part 2 – ‘Duty of Care, Skill and Diligence’ series) The term ‘due diligence’ is most often used to describe a detailed appraisal of a business undertaken by a prospective buyer, with a key focus on confirming its assets and liabilities and evaluating its commercial prospects. In the context of non-profit directorial duties however, its… Continue reading Giving ‘diligence’ its due

Efficient ‘time governance’

“It’s not that we have little time, but more that we waste a good deal of it.”  (Seneca) Good governance is often described as being a balance between efficiency and effectiveness in setting strategy, overseeing operations, and monitoring performance and conformance. As meetings are the chief means by which the board formally addresses its duties,… Continue reading Efficient ‘time governance’

It’s not ‘catastrophising’ when the catastrophe is real !

So often, risk is narrowly defined as the “effect of uncertainty on objectives” (ISO 3100 2009), and ‘risk management’ as a collection of steps by which to reduce the likelihood and/or impact of a hypothetical future adverse event.  Risk avoidance and risk transfer measures, such as insurance, are instituted before the event as preventive or… Continue reading It’s not ‘catastrophising’ when the catastrophe is real !

The solvency question: Should we continue to exist?

The not-for-profit sector is facing the same existential questions as the corporate sector at present due to COVID-19. Association members are wondering whether they will have jobs or businesses that they can keep viable, and so renewal of membership subscriptions is not necessarily a priority right now, while attendance at conferences and educational events is… Continue reading The solvency question: Should we continue to exist?

Governance guardrails and guiderails

The comparative schematics below illustrate the ways in which two related governance tools operate to achieve efficient and effective outcomes for organisations governed by a board of directors. Policies and procedures are usually created to set controls over an organisation’s activities and behaviour. While they are usually two parts of the one process, there are… Continue reading Governance guardrails and guiderails

Proof, clarity and compliance

I recall apologising to a senior politician once for troubling him to pose for a photo with my office bearers. His reply was disarmingly direct – “If there’s no photo, it didn’t happen”. A similar message was offered in the newly published Joint Statement on board minutes from the AICD and the Governance Institute. My… Continue reading Proof, clarity and compliance

“All models are wrong, but some are useful”

Originally a reflection on statistical modeling, this quote from British statistician George E. P. Box can also be helpfully applied to most business and planning models commonly used in strategic planning and governance deliberations. The quote is similar to American scientist and philosopher Alfred Korzybski’s remarks that “the map is not the territory” and that… Continue reading “All models are wrong, but some are useful”