"Two-thirds of study participants reported a time commitment of three or more years to implement governance changes."
—ASAE Foundation 2013 Good Governance Survey
Change takes time. This is definitely the case when organizations try to make changes to the manner in which they are governed. Initially, many stakeholders may not be open to making these changes.
However, as Beth Gazley and Katha Kissman wrote in a recent post for Associations Now, “governance improvements were about more than board-specific needs. Most often, governance changes were required to secure the future of the entire organization.”
Gazley and Kissman are the authors of Transformational Governance: How Boards Achieve Extraordinary Change (Wiley/ASAE, 2015), which serves as a guide to help association boards manage the transition to better governance models. According to them, “governance change begins when the status quo is challenged but really takes off when other constituents understand its link to larger organizational needs.”
In that vein, one of the first steps towards change is ensuring that the majority of stakeholders in an organization agree that the planned change is desired and necessary, even if goals and objectives are not yet clear. Gazley and Kissman suggest that this initial conversation about change might include the following elements:
- Identifying the problems the organization faces
- Developing a clear change vision
- Considering the impact change will have on employees, members, and other stakeholders, and then planning for it
- Committing to manage the process through a thoughtful strategy
- Moving from awareness of a need to a plan of action
Considering these elements could help you start the conversation about governance at your association. Perhaps, no change is necessary, but it’s worth having the conversation to be sure.