Is governance a board of directors activity or is it an operating system that includes the entire organization?
I posed this question on a LinkedIn discussion group called the Nonprofit Board Forum to see what they thought. You can check out the discussion by clicking here. 50% of the respondents agreed that governance was the role and responsibility of the board and the other 50% regarded governance as an organizational system that involved shared leadership.
I find that to be a remarkable shift in governance thinking. Does governance responsibilities extend beyond the board of directors into the organization? Does the CEO and the leadership team have a responsibility to take the baton from the board and do governance in the organization?Is this a shift in thinking about governance and organizations? Perhaps we are seeing a shift in how we think about organizations.
Margaret Wheatley in her book Leadership and the New Science points to a new way to think about organizations — shifting from a view that organizations are seen as machines to organizations as networks. A shift that structure and control are needed to operate effective organizations to organizations as being seen as a network of relationships that order rather than control the organization.
Viewing governance as an operating system maybe part of that shift. If it is, we, as governance thinkers will need new ideas, new ways of thinking and talking about governance.
What do you think? Are we on the right track?