How good is your governance?

Is your organization getting everything it needs from its board?  If you don’t think so, or even if you do, it’s time to start doing a board assessment.

A board assessment’s aim is to evaluate the performance of the board as a whole.  Its purpose is to evaluate the effectiveness of the board in fulfilling its governance duties to a variety of areas.  In his book “Making a Difference, Howard Berman defines these areas as:

  • Assuring the enterprise’s pursuit of its purpose;
  • Approving policy and strategy;
  • Monitoring performance processes and results;
  • Adding value to the organization; and,
  • Assuring continuous improvement in the performance of management and the board.

Berman wrote that any good board assessment should also include an analysis of processes, structures, and outcomes.  A process assessment looks at what the board does and how it works.  A structure assessment considers “things,” as opposed to activities.  This can include, for example:

  • A forward agenda;
  • A conflict of interest policy and program;
  • A code of conduct;
  • Adequate meeting facilities;
  • Regular executive sessions; and,
  • Regular chief executive communications.

Finally, Berman provides examples for analyzing objective factors.  Did the board or a designated committee:

  • Review and approve the enterprise’s strategy and operating plan;
  • Monitor actual performance against operating plan objectives;
  • Conduct an annual chief executive performance assessment;
  • Review and approve conflict of interest declarations;
  • Meet with the independent auditors; and,
  • Review and approve the code of conduct?