Testimonials and Stories About Govern

Some things people say about Policy Governance ..... 


If your governing board meetings go on way too long, if they get bogged down in congregational minutia, it may be time to consider Policy Governance. Policy Governance is a fundamental redesign of the role of a board. It calls on a board to focus on the organization’s vision and goals rather than minutia, and to give staff more freedom in making decisions. .... Many UU congregations have adopted Policy Governance and many more are considering it. It is especially valuable to congregations experiencing growth surges.


"Policy Governance has given our board comfort and confidence that:

  1. we are doing our job as well as possible;
  2. the district is on course for accomplishing worthwhile results;
  3. we have a good understanding of critical district affairs through monitoring;
  4. we have a process for continual improvement.

Our CEO is highly energized and motivated by the clear empowerment and direction the board has given him. Staff time spent interacting with the board has been reduced by 80%-90%, and staff frustration and demotivation due to board or individual board member activity is almost non-existent. Our CEO has chosen to use the model for management purposes which has meant that many other staff members are more energized, but it also true that some have been uncomfortable with the clearer accountability and increased delegation."
Jim Weigel, President of the Board of Education of Adams 12 Five Star District - one of the largest and most awarded school districts in the state of Colorado, USA, speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

"..because our Ends policies focus clearly on the competencies required of a nurse in the changing health system, the governing body of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA) is ensuring that educational preparation for nurses focuses on the right competencies."

"Our Ends work has provided the flexibility to build on partnerships with other key stakeholders and to seize opportunities. These partnerships have allowed us to move forward with a lobby for comprehensive primary health care.."
Donna Brunskill, Executive Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

"No individual plays a great shot every time, but by playing "best ball" a team can top every individual's performance. If we want excellent board decisions we don't want "lowest common denominator" decisions we want "best ball decisions". Policy Governance creates the discipline that makes this possible.  Now when we make a decision we are clear that it is our team's "best ball"."
Stephanie Corcoran President of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

 "As the CEO, don't wait too long to get your own systems in place. To be able to produce good monitoring reports you need to bring the management team in early. It will take time to align your senior management's reports with the CEO's monitoring reports. Don't just add another layer of reporting, you should be able to eliminate some of your usual reports from senior management to CEO because they will be encompassed in the monitoring system."
Roger Ballard, CEO of the Community Federal Credit Union in Michigan speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

"To other boards considering Policy Governance they would say "do it now – don't wait". Policy Governance allows boards to focus on the organization's vision, and provide more effective and efficient board and management dialogue and interaction."
From an IPGA Newsletter interview with James Bennett, Board Chair and John A LaPorta, Chief Executive Officer, Thames Valley Children's Centre, Ontario, Canada.

"When any corporation, charitable or otherwise, operating in Canada fully implements the Policy Governance® system by establishing reasonable and reasonably detailed policies of the types noted earlier, its board has fulfilled the full spectrum of legal obligations imposed upon its directors. The board itself and the individual directors will have taken steps far beyond the legal minimum required for boards and directors.

In fact, on a comparative basis, such boards and directors will be far ahead of the vast majority of corporations, even those in the world of commerce, in observing their respective legal and moral obligations sometimes described by the shorthand "due diligence."
Richard M. Biery, President of The Broadbaker Group, Missouri and Hugh M. Kelly Q.C. of Miller Thomson LLP in Toronto writing in the April 2003 issue of the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

The biggest benefit is having a clear understanding of the various roles of the individuals involved with the organization. Board time, freed of the day to day operational issues of the work of the organization, can focus on the "bigger" issues such as future direction and evaluation and better adapt to the changing environment in which it exists. The staff can benefit from clear direction and the freedom of effective delegation and better accountability. Reporting lines are clear – staff report to the Executive Director and the Executive Director reports to the Board. It has also contributed to a clear committee structure with a distinction being drawn between board committees and program committees that report through the Executive Director. The experience has been very positive for AIDS New Brunswick.  The clarity of the model could enhance the governance in most organizations. Training and education of Board and Staff in the model is the key to success."
Jim Burns, Board Vice-President, AIDS New Brunswick speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

 "The message we as a board would like to say to others looking at investing in this model is; Go for it! The benefits outweigh far more the long hours of intense work and full commitment that this model requires constantly.   Our board's future definitely lies in continuing with this model and we hope to create interest and understanding among other boards in our community in adopting the Policy Governance model, because in the end the ownership is the one to greatly benefit from this and our purpose is to serve them well."
Suzanne Lacelle, Chair of Hawkesbury and District General Hospital speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

"The benefits for us as a board include substantial time saving – the endless subcommittee and work sessions are gone.  We now spend our time being more productive - creating for our community those benefits that we believe are essential for the quality of life we want for our residents.   We have created a Greenspace Plan for our community which is a system of  linear natural corridors throughout our community; created a mixed use ordinance allowing for a blending of residential, office and commercial area in the same space; a lighting ordinance that protects our dark skies from the glare of commercial lights.  In the past, none of the above would have gotten beyond a few subcommittee meetings.  It has helped unify the board consensus. We have become a more efficient government.  We are the first Government in our State to have yearly meetings with our neighboring governments (city, township, and county) as well as well as our own appointed and elected boards. .... Our Ends have benefited all our appointed commissions by providing a unity of purpose and a guide. ... I see our board achieving everything that we have in our stated Ends. We have achieved many of them already, it has been extremely rewarding. 

I would advise all boards to begin monitoring themselves against their own policies right away.  Keeping the policies in front of the board helps everyone realize that, if Policy Governance is going to be successful, the burden is on board members' own shoulders.

To other Boards considering Policy Governance I would say, do not waste another minute thinking about it.  Have a workshop and explore it." 
Susan McGillicuddy, Supervisor of Meridian Township in Michigan, USA, speaking in an IPGA Newsletter.

Reviews of selected Policy Governance books (full list here)

Boards That Make a Difference: A New Design for Leadership in Nonprofit and Public Organizations (Jossey-Bass, 1990; 2nd edition, 1997; 3rd edition, 2006). By John Carver.

"John Carver is a revolutionary of the very best kind. Carver′s Policy Governance model has provided the means for trustees to live out Greenleaf′s challenge to boards to act as both servant and leader."
Larry C. Spears, CEO, The Greenleaf Center for Servant–Leadership; editor, Reflections on Leadership, Insights on Leadership, Servant Leadership, The Power of Servant Leadership ; co–editor, Practicing Servant Leadership and Focus on Leadership

"It took an inspired social scientist to record and describe the fundamental principles of [the Policy Governance] model, which provides deep insight into the role of the Board in the modern corporation."
Jeremy Booker, vice president corporate governance, British Petroleum, London

"Dr. Carver's governance model has been the key in empowering the State Bar of California Board of Governors to focus on policy that would help our judicial system."
Andrew J. Guilford, 1999–2000 president, State Bar of California

"An indispensable guidebook to leadership excellence."
George Weber, executive director, Canadian Dental Association, Ottawa; former secretary general, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva 

"Boards That Make a Difference explicates the model, which is simple, powerful and, above all, successful."
W. H. Hann, former executive director, Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia

"This book′s sound premises regarding proper role delineation and its practical advice provide an invaluable resource."
Dr. John R. Seffrin, CEO, American Cancer Society, Atlanta

"Dr. Carver offers a visionary yet practical approach to governance design."
Adalberto Palma Gómez, senior partner, Aperture S.C.; former director, Institute for the Protection of Bank Savings; chairman, Center for Excellence in Corporate Governance, Mexico City

"Policy Governance gives governing bodies and CEOs a clear insight into their mutual relationship and their distinct responsibilities."
Jacques Gerards, CEO, Dutch Association of Governors in Health Care, The Netherlands

Corporate Boards That Create Value: Governing Company Performance from the Boardroom (Jossey-Bass, July, 2002). By John Carver and Caroline Oliver.

" a valuable and enjoyable read well worth adding to the bookshelf " (Ps.advisor, 18 October 2002)

"In Corporate Boards That Create Value, Carver and Oliver offer totally new insights into an old topic. This rare and remarkable book provides a logical framework for governing in an efficient, accountable manner. The authors' easily understood and brilliantly explained methodology shows how directors can provide complete accountability to shareholders and also empower the management of the enterprise." --James Gillies, Ph. D., Professor Emeritus, Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, and author of Boardroom Renaissance: Power, Morality and Performance in the Modern Corporation

"The message of John Carver's and Caroline Oliver's book is clear-governance is the job of the board. It must be the key focus of the board and under its direction and control. By actively implementing the roadmap provided by the authors, progressive boards will be able to demonstrate that they are committed to promoting a culture of good corporate governance." --John Hall FAICD, CEO, Australian Institute of Company Directors
"Carver and Oliver give us a clear, practical, and effective model for governance. This is a model that enables boards to fully grasp their role as trustees and yet frees management to achieve the 'ends' the ownership wants and deserves. Must reading for board members and executives." --Jack Lowe, Jr., Chair and CEO, TDIndustries, Dallas

"Corporate Boards That Create Value is a veritable tour de force in the area of corporate governance, a major breakthrough in board leadership. In my opinion, the title Chief Governance Officer and the special illumination of the role and responsibility of those who would serve in that position are the greatest furtherance of servant leadership since Robert K. Greenleaf wrote the original essay, 'The Servant as Leader.'" --JimTatum, CEO Tatum Motor Company, community college leadership consultant, and former chairman of the R.K. Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership

"Carver and Oliver provide a unique and innovative model for corporate governance. What's even more remarkable is that the structure of the model allows corporate governance policy to be crafted to tackle the real life day-to-day issues facing both boards and management. In so doing, the model provides all stakeholders the comfort of knowing that a rationally structured approach exists for addressing corporate governance and, thereby, fiduciary responsibilities." --Christine Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Theragenics Corporation (Forbes' America's 200 Best Small Companies, 2001) Duluth, Georgia

"Carver and Oliver will challenge your most fundamental beliefs about corporate governance-a true breakthrough in thinking. Investors, directors, and executives should heed their message." --Dana R. Hermanson, C.P.A., Ph.D., Director of Research, Corporate Governance Center, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia

Getting Started with Policy Governance: Bringing Purpose, Integrity and Efficiency to Your Board's Work by Caroline Oliver (Jossey-Bass, 2009)

"Anyone following the events surrounding the financial turmoil in 2007 and 2008 has good reason to wonder if corporate governance is working. Caroline Oliver's latest book provides a route map to an innovative system of governance that boards should find well worth considering and even trying, it also provides many clues as to how some of the recent financial sector problems could have been prevented. Shareholders too should be interested in this book as it is about them, describing a system for how boards steer their organisations in their owners' interests."
Paul Moxey,  Head of Corporate Governance and Risk Management, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (Global)

"What a truly outstanding and thought-provoking book. It has changed how I work with Boards overnight and forever! If we all took the advice within the pages of this book, then organisations would deliver greater value to their owners and be better places to work."
Dr. Jay Bevington, Director, Assurance and Advisory Public Sector, Deloitte and Touche LLP

This is a great read. Such a book is long overdue, it is comprehensive, accessible and fills a big gap in the market.  Geraldine Peacock, CBE,  Former Chair of The UK Charity Commission

Reinventing Your Board: A Step-By-Step Guide to Implementing Policy Governance. Co-authored with Miriam Carver. (Jossey-Bass, 1997; revised edition, 2006). By John Carver and Miriam Carver.

"After reading Boards That Make a Difference and studying the theory behind John Carver's approach to improving the functioning of boards, this book is a natural next stage for a board committed to improving its capacity. Reinventing Your Board is a must."
Mike Whitlam, adviser, UK Office of Communications (Ofcom) and   former director general, British Red Cross Society, London

"This book has been an invaluable resource for our board members as we have adopted the Policy Governance model. It is an excellent road map for the implementation of the model, answering many practical questions and providing numerous examples of applications in a variety of settings. I strongly recommend it for any board wishing to improve its effectiveness."
Sister Patricia Lorenz, CSJ, board chair, Carondelet Health, Kansas City, Missouri

"This clear and chair-friendly book is the ultimate how-to manual for a board determined to ensure the future as they would envision it. No chairman should be without it."
George Dessart, former chair, board of directors, American Cancer Society, Atlanta

"John Carver is a revolutionary of the very best kind. Carver's Policy Governance model has provided the means for trustees to live out Greenleaf's challenge to boards to act as both servant and leader."
Larry C. Spears, CEO, The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership; editor, Reflections on Leadership, Insights on Leadership, Servant Leadership, and The Power of Servant Leadership; co-editor, Practicing Servant Leadership and Focus on Leadership  

"What I value about John Carver's thinking is that it provides a logical and coherent base, a unifying theory of governance that covers both the corporate and voluntary sectors, a universal definition of the difference between governance and management rather than the more usual approach of attempting to allocate functions between them."
Sir Adrian Cadbury, former chancellor, Aston University; former director, Bank of England; chairman, UK Committee on Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance (source of the "Cadbury Report"); recipient of the 2001 International Corporate Governance Network award; author of The Company Chairman and Corporate Governance and Chairmanship

The Policy Governance Fieldbook: Practical Lessons, Tips, and Tools from the Experience of Real-World Boards by Caroline Oliver (ed.), Mike Conduff, Susan Edsall, Carol Gabanna, Randee Loucks, Denise Paszkiewicz, Catherine Raso, and Linda Stier. (Jossey-Bass, 1999).

"The Policy Governance Fieldbook is not a theoretical treatise, but a practical study. Its authors are concerned with real people in real organizations with real challenges....It is the first book to start down what is surely to be a very long road. For that boldness, I am in its authors' debt. But more importantly, boards everywhere and those who rely on the integrity of governance--that means all of us--are in their debt as well."
from the Foreword by John Carver

"Local elected officials and professional staff will find Carver's model provocative and intriguing. This practical guide is one of the best I have encountered. The useful tips at the And of each chapter are worth the price of the book."
John Nalbandian, professor of public administration, University of Kansas

"A valuable resource for shedding light on the problems that can arise when Policy Governance is implemented and how they might be handled within the framework of the model."
Vic Murray, adjunct professor, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria


Lake of the Woods District Hospital wins Governance Excellence Award - 2013
Policy Governance users, Lake of the Woods District Hospital, Ontario, Canada, have won an award for Leading Governance Excellence from the Governance Centre of Excellence (GCE) of the Ontario Hospital Association.  Board Chair Fred Richardson believes that the board's work on ownership linkage was key to the honor. 

For more information on the awards see:   http://bit.ly/1gEERam

For a press release from LWDH see: policygovernance.org/assets/downloads/gce-award-press-release.pdf

Click here to hear an audio testimonial from Rev. R. Lamb, member of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital Board.