Boundary Management

An Extensive Policy GovernanceĀ® Resource for Boards of Directors

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Featured Question: What should we expect as a board as we adopt and implement Policy Governance?

Answer: It is important to recognize that adopting and implementing Policy Governance is a learning process. Learning processes, for the most part, have a defined pattern. That pattern is one of raising performance and then a plateauing, followed by more improved performance. It is difficult for individuals or groups to maintain continuous performance improvement. The plateau may happen for many reasons. Other factors may need time to catch up. In Policy Governance, often, the Executive needs time to catch up with the Board. Plateauing may happen because the Board needs to catch its breath and absorb what it has learned and developed. The plateau may happen because an objective has been reached.

This final point of why plateaus happen is worth noting. Whatever the Board has set as their objective in adopting or implementing policy governance is important. Boards and Board Members are usually unaware of what it takes to adopt and implement Policy Governance, making it unlikely they have any objective in mind other than doing it. Once they believe they have accomplished that, the motivation to move ahead is quickly diminished.

Another thing to remember is that knowledge and skills have to be gained. There are words and definitions used in Policy Governance that are similar but different from traditional management. For some examples, review the Policy Governance Annotated Glossary. Boards Members will have to relearn some of the principles of Policy Governance as they progress because they didn't know what they didn't know.

The skill element is even more of a challenge because it is a group skill that needs to be learned and not a set of individual skills. Most boards are individuals in a grouping rather than a real workgroup. Boards will have to practice as a group. Policy Governance's approach and even mindset are about the group.

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