Boundary Management

An Extensive Policy Governance® Resource for Boards of Directors

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Featured Question: What should we do for new Board members that weren't here when our Board adopted Policy Governance?

Answer: One of the chief reasons Boards revert to traditional governance is the lack of new member orientation. New members don't have the opportunity that the original Board members did to learn about Policy Governance as the first set of Board policies were developed. If Boards aren't careful, a gradual loss of expertise and knowledge occurs until the Board no longer fully understands the conceptual foundation of Policy Governance, allowing them to revert to old practices.

An orientation for new members will help keep Policy Governance alive. Maybe less evident is that there needs to be both a knowledge and a skill component. The knowledge element is pretty straightforward, sharing and explaining the basic elements of Policy Governance. This can be done in multiple ways, such as giving them a copy of "Boards that Make a Difference" or the CarverGuides. A more personalized approach can be carried out by almost any Board member who has a good understanding of the concepts. A presentation format might be helpful to assure that all the concepts are covered. This website has a downloadable file that can be used as a place from which to start. What are the basics that new Board members should understand? A good list can be found on the Policy Governance Simplified page.

However, the other component is a set of Policy Governance skills. Sometimes the issue is that even the Board is still functioning at a neophyte level in terms of skill. This makes it doubly hard for new Board members as they don't have Board examples from which to model their behavior. Which skills should new Board members look to acquire?

Another effective approach is to ask new Board members to be process observers once they have the basic concepts. It allows them and the Board to see things from a fresh perspective.

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