Learning from Governance Projects

Here are six points that we have learned from our work on governance.

  1. Strong leadership.

    Any governance-related process needs strong leadership from the Chair and
    support from the Chief Executive.

  2. Shared understanding of the rationale for any change.

    Board members need a shared commitment to any work on governance and a common
    understanding of the need for any change, whether through a major review or a
    Board development process. Clarity about both the aims and how the work will proceed
    is critical in enabling the change to get underway, and to prevent the programme being
    thwarted at difficult points in the change process.

  3. Realistic timeframes.

    Boards are made up of busy people and they meet infrequently.
    It is crucial to be realistic about:

    • Whether and when Board members need to commit time to contribute to the work
    • The elapsed time needed for the review
    • The importance of building time
      into the process to give individuals plenty of opportunity to understand and accept
    • The timeframe for achieving any agreed changes.
  4. Regular meetings of the whole Board.

    Whilst a steering group might lead a review process, it is important to have
    regular discussions with all Board members to ensure their commitment at each
    stage of the process.

  5. Strong decision making capability.

    A consultative approach to change is to be encouraged, although it needs to be
    recognised that there will be some stages within the process where choices need
    to be made. Delays in agreeing important decisions can undermine the effectiveness
    of a change programme.

  6. Solutions are never purely structural.

    Attention must always be given to relationships, skills and processes.