As a self-confessed governance geek, I have served on multiple boards and seen first-hand the difference between boards that practice ‘Good Board Governance’ and those that don’t. The boards that do practice good governance consistently see better results and achieve better outcomes for their organizations. Those that don’t practice effective board governance often struggle with dysfunction and find themselves struggling to make any real impact.

What do we mean by ‘good board governance’?

Good board governance is about the process of making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions. There are different definitions of the characteristics of good governance, but for the purpose of this post, we define the fundamental characteristics of accountability, transparency, responsiveness, effectiveness and efficiency.

Good board governance should be responsive to the present and future needs of the organization, exercise prudence in policy-setting and decision-making, and ensure that the best interests of all stakeholders are considered.

It’s a difficult ideal for boards to achieve, but here are seven things I’ve encouraged the boards I work with to do that can make achieving good governance easier:

  1. 1. Implement and use a board governance model like Policy Governance or, if you’re a school board in the state of Texas, Lone Star Governance or eXceptional Governance.
  2. 2. Make sure the vision and mission of the board are aligned with the values of the community and key stakeholders.
  3. 3. To be successful in achieving the organization's vision and mission, develop business level strategies that have goals and objectives and are aligned with the vision and mission.
  4. 4. Be transparent and share activity, goals and plans with the community and key stakeholders, which in turn will increase accountability.
  5. 5. Be clear about the rules of engagement that your CEO needs to follow when working towards goals, and don’t get involved in day-to-day management issues.
  6. 6. Make sure that collaboration between board members is ongoing and that the monitoring of progress against goals is not limited to board meetings.
  7. 7. Take advantage of board management software and tools that can help evaluate and monitor progress against goals and streamline processes like collaboration, implementation of a governance model and the sharing of information with key stakeholders.