My wife and I recently had the pleasure of a vacation on the coast of Mexico. We were even upgraded to a suite on the 4th floor overlooking the beach and the ocean. We spent many hours watching the waves, breathing the fresh air, and lapping up the environment.
My mind became consumed with two thoughts as I was watching…first, those waves had been washing onto this shore (and every other shore in the world) for time beyond memory. They have been relentless and will continue to be for long after this day. And, as relentless as they have been, the principles behind why they keep coming are fairly simple. Frequency, wavelength, amplitude (among others) are pretty straightforward, unchanging components of what makes waves in the first place. These components are a part of every wave, always have been, and always will be.
This relentless nature of the waves is similar to Policy Governance® in some ways. Most striking is that Policy Governance is an unwavering application of 10 basic principles of governance. A board committed to these principles will find itself able to be effective for many years or even decades. Abandoning any of the principles will negatively affect the board’s ability to be effective – just like removing the frequency from the attributes of a wave would stop its motion.
The second thought that struck me was, no matter how much I tried to find it, I could not witness two waves that looked entirely identical. Yes, all waves operated with the same basic set of components. Yet they were not carbon copies of one another. Some uniqueness in the sand under the water, the wind, the moon’s gravitational pull, etc., created uniqueness in the waves as well.
One of the (unfounded) criticisms of Policy Governance is that it is a cookie cutter approach and leaves no room for flexibility for the board or the organization. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The board’s commitment to the ten basic principles of Policy Governance allows the board to apply them to unique situations. Every organization is different. Commitment to principles of governance creates conditions for both the relentless pursuit of excellence and the adaptation to unique circumstances.
These principles will work for your board too. Commit to a relentless application of the principles of Policy Governance. This will allow your organization to continue to reach the shores of your preferred destination – and afford you the freedom to address unique situations as they arise.