As a former college professor, I challenged my students to be articulate. I’ve always believed the ability to clearly and effectively express ideas and to be understood is important. In the course of a semester, I would assign, at minimum, two oral presentations, a few short writing assignments and one final paper. Of course, this made more work for me, especially when I was teaching several courses with numerous students per course. Multiple choice assignments would have taken less time for me to grade!
Over the years, I would have students test me to see if I was “really reading” their paper. Embedded somewhere in the text I would be asked, “Are you really reading this?” or they might write garbled sentences, a proper sentence not in context, lines of a song, a poem or some such nonsense. My first reaction was laughter. I would start chuckling and admire their sense of humor and their bravery. If they included lines of a song or a poem, in the margin, I would continue with the lyric. If I was asked a direct question, I would answer the question along with a comment. Ultimately they realized, yes, I was reading every word, assessing every word.
Today, I am a Policy Governance Coach and my role is to help boards to clearly and effectively express their ideas through written policy, and CEOs to clearly articulate compliance with policy.
In Policy Governance the board writes policy to guide the organization. Written policy includes policy that informs how the board will do its own job, how it will delegate to management, what Ends it hopes to achieve and limitations on means that are not acceptable.
Ends and limitations are delegated to management who must be monitored on the achievement of Ends and on acceptable compliance with limitations. Monitoring is most often done by the board’s assessment of monitoring reports from the CEO.
The CEO or delegates spend significant time writing these monitoring reports. They include an explicit interpretation of the board’s policies, including metrics that will demonstrate compliance, along with a rationale as to why the board should consider the interpretation reasonable. Finally, there must be verifiable evidence of compliance. One monitoring report on one policy may take hours and various resources to complete.
The board monitors organizational performance and does so by assessing the monitoring reports. However, does the board “really read the report”? If board members don’t read the report thoroughly, then they are not doing their job of monitoring organizational performance. Do board members understand how to effectively assess a monitoring report? If they don’t understand there are resources available to learn. Ensure that your board “really reads” the monitoring reports.
For more on assessing monitoring reports, check out our tool kit Meaningful Monitoring.