The following are some tips to help guide your work in reviewing a governance model:
- Because the governance model should reflect the goals and the ideals of the community, the community must be involved in its creation. I suggest setting up a task force with clearly defined goals and a stated timeline who can work to review the current structure and work to recommend a possible new model.
- Review the current model and ascertain where it is succeeding and where it is faltering. Don’t blow structures up for the sake of blowing structures up. For example, it is not wise to disband a committee simply because it is a committee. If the committee is doing valuable work and creating valuable products efficiently, there may be no reason for disbanding. Conversely, if a committee is faltering don’t sustain its existence simply because it has always existed.
- Determine what areas are going to be allocated to the Board and what areas are going to be allocated to the hired leadership. In my experience, most domains have existed either as the jurisdiction of the hired leadership or belong to the Board. Determine and be(come) comfortable with which areas are given to which governing body.
- The governance structure should reflect the gifts and talents of the paid leadership staff, or the paid leadership should be provided the support that he/she needs in certain areas if he/she is not gifted in that particular area. For example, if the finances of the school are listed as the domain of the hired leadership and this person is not gifted or trained in this area, it may be wise to provide that person with a budget for hiring someone gifted in this area such as a bookkeeper or accountant.
- In my experience, the implementation of a governance model has often preceded specific policy guiding key areas of governance. I think it is wise to give a new governance model some time to work itself out prior to trying to approve policy that guides its use. It will be helpful to review policy following a certain time period to ensure that it reflects current practice. This may seem backwards, but this way you’ll be reviewing, revising, and approving policy once instead of twice. Perhaps of more importance is ensuring that your governance model doesn’t contradict your society’s by-laws.
Reviewing the school’s governance structure can be an exciting time for a community. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate what aspects are working really well but also a perfect occasion to remedy those areas that aren't working as efficiently as they could. There is hesitancy in some communities to change a governance structure that doesn't appear to be broken. My thought is that sometimes you don’t know what’s broken until you try something new.