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Featured Question - January 26, 2004

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Q:

Do you have a simple way to describe Policy Governance?

A:

Yes, but it may too simple.  Despite that, I think it gives a quick way to describe Policy Governance. You can think of it as "The What's Left Over Principle."  First, there are two organizational areas that need to be identified: Ends and Means.  The way this is done is by first identifying the Ends and what's left over are Means.  There are two types of Means: board Means and executive Means.  The way these are identified is by first identifying the board Means and what's left over are executive Means.  Within board Means, there are Means decided by the whole board and Means decided by the chair. The board identifies what is theirs as a whole and what's left over is the chairs.  The board delegates authority to the executive by identifying everything that is unacceptable and what's left over is acceptable. 

Most other approaches reverse this process.  They start with the executive's Means, and what's left over belongs to the board.  The board delegates authority by identifying what is acceptable and what's left over is unacceptable.  This probably doesn't hold for the Means and Ends separation because few organizations even identify Ends.  Everything for them is a Means.

This simple technique provides a clarity that is not found in other governance approaches or even management strategies.  This clarity creates the increased accountability that Policy Governance provides.  It creates the control and freedom that no other approach provides. 

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