2013                                                                                                                Issue 13


BoardWorks International

Welcome to Issue 13 of Board Works


Welcome to this issue of Board Works.


The main intent of the first article in this issue is consciousness raising. Tracking and measuring performance is central to the way most boards approach their work. So central, in fact, that most boards pretty much take both the concept and the process for granted. In Performance Measures: Are They More Trouble Than They Are Worth? I  review the work of two commentators who have drawn attention - both philosophically and practically - to some of the large but mostly unacknowledged fish hooks in performance measurement. The most important issue for boards to consider is whether the way they approach performance management (both the process and measures used) might be producing a range of unintended (and negative) consequences.


I then turn to what is perhaps the most important work that any board carries out- that of policy making. In two complementary articles I look at both the importance of the policy making process - particularly the order in which things are done (Policy Making: Does Your Board Put The Cart Before The Horse?) and the various steps a board might take to ensure its policy framework stays relevant, dynamic and impacting as it should (How to Keep Your Board's Policy Framework Alive and Well! ).


Regular readers of Board Works and its predecessor hard copy publication Good Governance* will be conscious that board time management is something we refer to regularly. I would like to hope that one day that might not be necessary but, in the meantime, I am not holding my breath! The reality for most boards is that they continue to `struggle to use their time to best effect. In Why Does Your Board Need An 'Annual Agenda'? I explain the value and process of applying a longer timeframe in planning what the board will work on. Boards that have adopted a disciplined annual agenda planning process invariably report increased satisfaction with board meetings and improved board effectiveness and efficiency generally.



Good reading



Graeme Nahkies



* Many Good Governance articles are now available on the web courtesy of one of our long term clients, Sport New Zealand as a result of recent revisions to Sport NZ's Nine Steps to Effective Governance publication. The first edition was based on original research we did for Sport New Zealand's predecessor organisation, SPARC, in 2004. 'Nine Steps' has been a 'best seller' for SPARC and now Sport New Zealand. Thousands of hard copies have been distributed and many more electronic copies downloaded by readers around the world since the first edition was published in November 2004. Now fully revised and improved in association with my colleague Terry Kilmister, the third edition is available at no charge (http://www.sportnz.org.nz/en-nz/our-partners/Developing-Capabilities/Governance-Templates). It is accompanied by a great many additional resources including many of the articles Terry and I have produced over the years. Most of these were only available previously to subscribers to Good Governance but can now also be accessed and downloaded from the Sport New Zealand web-site.





In This Issue
Performance Measures: Are They More Trouble Than They Are Worth?
Policy Making: Does Your Board Put The Cart Before The Horse?
How to Keep Your Board's Policy Framework Alive and Well!
Why Does Your Board Need An 'Annual Agenda'?
Article13A Performance Measures: Are They More Trouble Than They Are Worth? 


Perfromance Article 1 13 Some business practices are, apparently, so obvious and above reproach that they become entrenched and taken for granted. This appears to be the case with performance measurement. The adage that 'what gets measured gets done' is repeated so often that it practically has the status of holy writ.


I have been as guilty as anyone of promoting the use of performance measures in relation to both organisational and individual performance.  


Read and Print the full Article






Article13B Policy Making: Does Your Board Put The Cart Before The Horse?

 When a board struggles to give effective direction to its organisation and to get leverage over key organisational performance issues it is often because one of two conditions is present. The board's attention is more on ad hoc operational decision making than on high level policy making. Alternatively, the board does tackle policy making but is often ineffective because its starting point is at too low a level.


Both conditions bring to mind the old saying that 'the cart is before the horse' .....


Read and Print the Full Article
Article13C How to Keep Your Board's Policy Framework Alive and Well
  Many boards have made an initial investment in the development of a comprehensive policy framework only to see it fail to take hold and deliver benefit. Assuming the original intent was sound this is usually because, after the initial burst of effort, the novelty, and the 'follow-up', falls off. .....
Article13D Why Does Your Board Need An 'Annual Agenda'?

 The time a board has for its members to meet face-to-face is arguably its scarcest resource. There are many pressures on that time and, consequently, a tendency to overload the agenda. As directors often complain this is made worse by trying to deal with 'too much of the wrong stuff'. Many boards - even those with professional directors - are vulnerable to 'bogging down' in short-term, day-to-day operational and management matters.

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(J F Kennedy)


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