Governance and governing
The Macquarie dictionary defines governance as:
It includes in the definition of to govern:
There are many and varied definitions of corporate governance.
governance is the system by which entities are directed and controlled. (Australian standard AS 8000 - 2003 Good Governance Principles)
Governing, applied to a board of directors refers to its legal right to exercise authority over some organisation. Governance is how the board goes about exercising its authority over an organisation; it is a system or process for managing a board’s affairs. (Diane J Duca, Non Profit Boards Roles, Responsibilities and Performance)
Key question: What is governance?
In recent years there has been an increasing focus on governance in both private companies and non-profit companies. There have been many changes to Australian and State law that impact on the duties and responsibilities of Directors. Pessures and changes include govvernments holding boards more accountable for the use of public funds and legislative changes making boards of directors more accountable for what happens in their organisations, eg, the NSW Occupational Health and Safety legislation.
Key question: What are the pressures and changes affecting your board?
Organisations progress through life cycles so the role of the board can vary depending on the where the organisation is in its life cycle. The role of the board in starting up an organisation with no staff can be quite different to the role of the board in an organisation which has grown to have hundreds of staff (even though the legal responsibilities and duties may be similar for both).
Key question: Where is your organisation in its life cycle? What are the governance challenges for your board?
There are many models of governance. There is no one-size-fits-all. For example:
Key question: What governance model are you using? Does everyone on the board share the same understanding?
Roles, duties and responsibilities
Every board of directors needs to be clear about its roles, its duties and responsibilities. The board needs to be able to answer questions like:
Key question: What are all the questions your board needs to be able to answer? Does your board have explicit answers?