What does governance look like in your organization?
I am involved in the governance of three co-ops; Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op, the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation(CWCF), and The Co-operators.
In the Worker co-op, governance is formalized yet informal. It is often difficult to know which hat one needs to be wearing when making a decision as roles and responsibilities are intermingled.
At CWCF we have transitioned from an operations board to a governance board. With the help of the ED and staff we have developed strong oversight policies and procedures.
The Co-operators has strong, formalized governance practises including regular education sessions. In the fall we had an excellent session on the role and duties of directors. We reviewed the importance of good faith, that good faith requires diligence and how much diligence is enough. We discussed dual director duties (almost all directors at The Co-operators serve on their member board of directors). The dilemma of candor vs confidentiality – a director may not remain silent when information is materially relevant even if it is protected by confidentiality – the duty of candor clashes with the duty of confidentiality. Most importantly we discussed the notably increased board duties under the new OFSI Corporate Governance Guideline including: not just Approve strategy but Approve and Oversee and not just Review and Discuss Operational Policies but Provide Challenge, Advice and Guidance to Senior Management.
Does the ‘Model for Good Governance’ accurately capture governance in most organizations?
In theory this captures governance but in reality there is a lot of overlap of the different groups and the flow of accountability and empowerment are not equal. Accountability is often pushed down ultimately to the staff. The same way that empowerment often stays with the owners. The people with the money (ownership) have the power and the people doing the work have little say (empowerment).
What did you think about the governance structure of the Diefenbaker Clinic? What challenges might an organization like this encounter?
Strategic miss – not serving (all) the folks the clinic was created for. This is a blind spot for the board.
The organization may encounter restricted funding if it is not serving the whole community. Competing organizations may spring up and take on some of their work, They may become irrelevant if they do not serve their members.