Time to Rethink Your View On Governance

The true value and contribution of governance to any organisation needs
to be acknowledged. It is much more than a mere administration function.

It is time to restore the meaning of governance. There is much discussion lately on LinkedIn, that seems to place governance as a lesser priority for business owners when compared to such aspects as seeking new markets and networking.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors, in recent governance briefs and forums, focused on the legislative and regulatory compliance aspects of governance. This remit has commendably broadened as a result of the Banking Royal Commission, but it is still a compliance-based mindset.

I was lucky enough to attend a consultancy’s end-of-year function. The guest speaker was a career public servant who was leaving one of the larger government departments on promotion to a smaller but more independent and responsible government position. He spoke about governance. He saw it as having three basic requirements: accountability, clarity and leadership. This is a timely reversal of the usual mantra, of seeing governance as a matter of process and compliance.

There were obviously many strengths in the department he was leaving, including dedicated and generally diligent staff. However, he also discussed key weaknesses including overly complex language, and an arduous committee-bound approval process, which obfuscated accountability. It is too easy to say that this is endemic to all large bureaucracies but given his lifelong and broad public sector experience, it was obviously a specific issue in his department and a major concern above the normal noise of large organisations.

If we go back to the key meaning of govern—to control, direct, or strongly influence the actions and conduct of, or to exert a determining or guiding influence in or over—we find ourselves reflecting the core view of the guest speaker.  Such an approach will have less of a self-promoting aspect to them, and lead to organisations able to cope with dynamic shifts in the operating environment. Well governed organisations become self-adapting to change and customer demands, thus allowing senior management to look out for and seek longer terms goals.

Good governance is a key platform to launch your strategic plan from – you cannot go forward without understanding where you have been and who you are.

About the Author:

Jason Thomas is the Founder of de Montaigne Strategic Planning, which provides robust strategic planning and training services to small to medium-sized enterprises, not-for-profit organisations and government departments.

He has over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership, operational and planning roles across the military, public and private sectors. In addition, Jason holds numerous degrees and qualifications including Gold Mastery Certification with the Haines Centre for Strategic Management.