OPIS Consultants

Governance

When addressing governance issues, we have found that many organizations struggle with how they should be structured without first reaching agreement on what the organization is trying to accomplish. Secondly, many boards often do not involve all those who might be affected by the change. Failure to gain a shared vision leads to dissension and resistance. Those issues notwithstanding, many organizations fail to focus on execution. The best plans will fail without adequate attention given to implementation issues.

There is a better way. Our approach places organizational structure in context and includes steps to ensure the process will be implemented. The old adage, “Form follows function” certainly applies to governance. Organizations are systems.  A systems approach to organizations involves designing a structure that facilitates organizational performance that will lead to desired outputs. Organizations that fail to understand the interaction among these three elements – outcomes, performance, and structure -- will diminish their effectiveness. Governance cannot be evaluated in isolation. Rather, it must be assessed in the context of the organization’s desired ends. When viewing any governance model, the organization must first ask “ How will the proposed model assist the organization in achieving its desired ends?” In the absence of any clear understanding of its desired ends, any model will do.

With the organization’s strategic plan as the foundation, we assess the governance structure using the following process:

1. Interviews:  We conduct interviews of key staff and leadership to identify strengths and weaknesses of the current structure in the context of the organization’s mission and objectives

2. Performance Requirements: The purpose of specifying performance requirements is to help designers understand the issues that must be addressed with a new structure. Assume we were designing a house for a client. To know they want a new house is not to know much. We would want to know what climate conditions the house should address – how many people will live in the house, whether the people will have an office in the house, etc. In a like manner, when designing a new governance structure, the task force might identify design requirements such as: it must represent the diversity of the membership, it should allow for democratic elections etc.

 3.  Gap analysis: Once the performance requirements are reviewed and approved by the board, we work with the organization to identify problems with the current structure. A problem is defined as a meaningful difference between “what is” and “what should be.” The performance requirements define what should be.  We will assist you to compare the performance requirements (what should be) to the current structure (what is) and identify any significant gaps (problems) that exist. We will then present these identified problems to the board for its review and approval. 

4. Design a new model. We will work with the staff and leaders to design options to address the design requirements and problems identified by the task force. A concept of systems theory is the principle of equafinality. Said simply, the principle of equafinality asserts that several acceptable methods can be used to reach the same end. Consistent with this principle, we will work with you to develop several options for meeting the performance requirements. The organization will identify the advantages and disadvantages for each option.

5. Board selection: We will assist the board in its review of the governance options as well as in making its final selection,

6. Execution plan: As we have noted, planning alone is not sufficient. The plan must be executed. We will work with the organization to develop a implementation plan specifying what steps will be taken to move toward the new governance model. The plan will specify what will be done, when, by whom and at what cost. We anticipate the plan will include steps for revising the bylaws and other governing documents, as well as developing and implementing a communication plan aimed at key audiences within the organization to gain buy-in. We will then work with the organization to implement the plan of execution.

7. Evaluation plan: The purpose of any governance model is to facilitate the organization’s achievement of its mission and desired ends. Once changes are put into place, it will be important to verify that those changes have, in fact, brought about an improvement in performance.

 

We would welcome an opportunity to submit a customized proposal outlining how we would work with you to meet you unique needs at a fee tailored to meet your budget. Please contact at us at:

 

OPIS, LLC

630 Sugarloaf Ct.

Highland Village, TX, 75077

 

Phone: 972-317-9596

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