How many Ss spell governance?
This model is designed to help boards decide which mode they are in. Many of the best boards signal which mode is required for which subject. Good boards are able to readily identify the right mode. And outstanding boards can move with confidence, and clarity between the modes.
Too many boards behave as if Strategy is the only mode that counts. They risk developing big and irrelevant plans. Others privilege stewardship. They risk protecting and failing to change. Boards which only support are simply cheerleaders, just as perpetual scrutiny is demoralising and nearly always retrospective. Stretching out of context is wasteful.
The challenge for governance is to deploy all five modes, appropriately and with confidence.
Strategy – determining direction, looking five years ahead, shaping the organisation, designing the sort of organisation you want to lead.
- Is this where we want to be going?
- Does this direction make sense?
- Are their alternatives?
- Have we thought about…?
Stewardship – protecting the assets – including the staff, reputation, capital and investments.
- What will this do to assets?
- Does it allow us to serve future generations?
- What do we risk ?
Support – encouragement, ensuring the right resources are there, enabling, facilitating, problem solving.
- Is the new system of information management really helping?
- Is our senior team at risk of burn out?
- Have we protected them against the attacks and abuse we know they are receiving?
Stretch – being ambitious, encouraging more to be done
- Can’t we do better than this?
- Have we registered what X down the road is doing?
- Is this really as good as we can be?
Scrutiny – checking, assurance, providing external validation.
- Are really doing this safely enough? What do others say about our performance?