It all starts with the End. Ends policies signify the impact the organization seeks to have on the outside world. In Policy Governance®, the global Ends statement must have three components: the impact, difference, change, benefit or outcome in or for people (results); the identity, description, or characteristics of the population to receive the results (recipients); and the monetary expense of producing that outcome, relative worth, or relative priority of a result (cost). In other words, the largest Ends statement shall address what difference, for whom, at what worth. Subsequent lower-level Ends include at least one of the three components.
The difference the organization makes is dependent on the vision of the board and its informed voice reflecting the values of the owners. My favorite chart below (you’ve seen it in one of my blog’s before) is an example of the various ways the board can get information for Ends decisions.
Owner input enriches the board’s deliberations on the benefits the organization should produce. This important dialogue with owners/shareholders provides necessary information that captures their values and priorities for the organization. Understanding those values guides the board’s long term, future focused Ends decision making. Environmental scans are important in providing the board with information on trends in the industry and beyond, as well as potential disruptive forces that may impact the organization’s ability to produce desired outcomes. Enriched information delves into specific issues, providing the board with a more in-depth information base on which to make wise decisions. Monitoring information assesses what the organization has achieved so far. Knowing this may influence the relative priority the board places on various outcomes.
Ends work is not for the faint of heart; it is for the fate of the organization. Creating and maintaining a reflective statement of Ends is the most important work of the board.