At the Board Table - 4

As regular readers may know, we have worked hard over the past three years to make the successful transition from IPGA to GOVERN for IMPACT. Apart from the legal, financial and organizational challenges, the most important challenge has been, and continues to be, the shift towards a more open perspective on discussing the Policy Governance principles. As this is the topic that has garnered the most interest and questions, I thought it would be a good idea to share the Board's perspective with you.


Historically, our organization believed that strict adherence to Policy Governance principles and some agreed-upon interpretations were essential for organizations to achieve the best results in board governance. That approach, coupled with the need to comply with the highest standard of Policy Governance implementation, in order to use the service mark granted by the Carvers, has unfortunately proved restrictive for both our current and broader prospective audiences.We have faced criticism for being too inward-looking, and not being open enough to the variety of ways the principles can and have been implemented.

With the near-universal promise of better, more ethical and efficient governance that we can bring to the world, we recognize our focus needs to shift from an emphasis on the Policy Governance principles and details of their interpretation, to the impact the principles could have when organizations strive to adhere to them. Hence the word 'IMPACT' in our new name.

We have come to realize that we need to better acknowledge the real-world experiences of people using Policy Governance. This includes the varieties of implementation that are based on Policy Governance. They may not be considered 'the real thing', but if they work for the people using them, it would only be wise to include these experiences in our learning conversations.

This does not mean the intent is to dilute the principles or do away with them. The original Policy Governance principles will always remain the 'golden standard' in our thinking and learning.What it does mean though is that for us as a community our challenge is now to engage in a more open learning-conversation on differences in implementation, varieties in interpretation of the principles and the struggles people may encounter while using Policy Governance.

GOVERN for IMPACT's Vision is for governing boards and those interested in governance to have a shared and evolving understanding of governance excellence and to have the awareness, knowledge and support they need to achieve excellence.This is not achieved overnight, nor even in a year, or by changing our name. An important first step is to acknowledge that there is not one perfect way of doing Policy Governance and that excellence in governance can appear in many forms.

Whether highly experienced consultants or first-year practitioners, we are all learning every day. Learning is a two-way process and an attitude that we will continue to grow within our community. We're pleased to see that there are several great learning opportunities coming up on our agenda of events. Please join us in this learning journey!

Hartger Wassink, Chair 

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