Thursday, September 18, 2008

Good governance – more than just getting the process right

I’ve been reading the National Housing Federation’s Code of Governance. (I do know how to enjoy myself. Moreover, I am attending a consultation event on changes to the Code so I thought I should do some prep.)

The Code may be four years old but it is hard to fault what it says – its content sets out best practice in governance. (It is probably easier to fault the application of the Code by many housing associations. Several have half-heartedly implemented time limits on board membership in order to avoid applying the spirit of the board renewal requirements. I suspect many others fail on other provisions such as publicising the membership of sub-committees – probably without even knowing.)

I might fault the Code on what it does not say. I would suggest that what is missing from the Code is a full recognition of the importance of board dynamics and organisational leadership.

Moreover, the Code is weak in its overall tone. Good governance is about delivering excellent outcomes as well as getting the process right.

The Code notes:

Good governance is more than good practice – it is good business too … As such good governance enhances organisational reputation, and ensures better results are achieved.

That’s true in so far as the evidence demonstrates an association between governance and performance. But good governance is about focusing on results, outcomes and impact – you can’t just assume that procedural ticks will yield deliver the goods.

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