9 principles for governing stewardship

January 28, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

The demands of running a nonprofit can obscure the need to be a part of the community, to fulfill mission.

In his book “Stewardship” Peter Block argues that stewardship is a necessary part of the management mind-set and that it offers a set of design principles on which a range of management practices can be molded.

Block offers the following nine principles for governing on the basis of stewardship:

  • Maximize the choice for those closest to the work. Core workers become involved in the creating of policies and practices affecting their work;
  • Reintegrate the managing and the doing of the work. Management becomes a set of tasks and activities, not a job title;
  • Let measurements and controls serve the core workers. Have the measures designed by those to be measured. Be realistic about predictability;
  • Yield on consistency across groups, and support local solutions. Embrace consistency only when the law, regulations or external demands require it;
  • Service is everything. People are accountable to those they serve;
  • Deglorify management as a job title and demystify the staff functions. Management and staff groups exist primarily to contribute to people doing the core work;
  • End secrecy. Support the idea of full disclosure;
  • Demand a promise.  There is a price to be paid by those given more choice over their work, and that price is a promise; and,
  • Redistribute wealth. The reward systems need to tie everyone’s fortunes to the success of the team, unit and larger organization.