Figuring out how and what to talk to your owners about is not intuitive. Policy Governance asks you to be purposeful in that connection, seeking perspectives, identifying missing voices and gathering unknown values for policy development. Ownership linkage also includes the accountability for the board’s performance by providing information and sharing governance effectiveness and organizational outcomes with the owners.
To see an illustration of the process, click here.
Here are a few of the ownership linkage topics you may be looking for:
- The sort of questions you could ask and when you would ask them
In many cases when you speak with your owners (those who are interested in the greater good for the whole and over the long term), they may not realize that they are owners. They are used to responding to questions from a consumer's mind (do I get what I pay for and am I happy with the product and service?). An easy way to frame this distinction is that consumers want, owners value. The key in our experience has been to construct questions in such a way that owners are nearly forced to think about an issue from the big picture perspective. In other words, what is important about this issue? What do I value?
In all cases though, the point is not to just ask questions because you think you are supposed to, but to ask questions relevant to when the board needs to know something in order to ensure that its work is done well. Some examples of this are the need to better understand owner values or priorities, find and hear a missing voice or test the values in policy or in discussion that the board believes fit owner values but is not sure about.
- How the linkage can be used in policy development
Once the linkage is complete you will have a lot of raw responses or, if you are using a firm or facilitator a list of themes or findings. The trick will be to turn that into usable knowledge. The board will have to determine what the information means for the topic being explored and then what impact if any it has on its policies. Depending on what is learned the board might find that it needs to change nothing, that there is the need for a new policy or that a policy needs to be changed.
- How linkage ties in with the Annual Agenda
Linkage fits into the Annual Agenda it two ways. First, the need for linkage can be a part of any annual agenda. While linkage is required in policy (and thus not optional) we still think of it as strategic because there is no specific method or purpose assigned in policy and that must be strategically determined. Second, what is learned from the linkage could trigger the need to learn more about new questions (possible annual agenda topic) or to shift policy (new policy development on annual agenda) or to change something about its own process (board training) and all of these could appropriately be fit into the meeting agendas as a part of the annual agenda.