For small organizations that do not have a paid Senior Manager, presumably you are an Operational Board. We have been navigating the transition from a Governance Board to an Operational one. What other organizations have changed their Board structure and type along this continuum, and what successes and challenges have been experienced as a result?
I was on a board that lost their amazing ED (she moved to Ontario, nothing more serious!). We hired a new ED, but he did not pass his probationary period. Suddenly our wonderful policy board had to become an operational board. At first, the staff wanted to know that the Board Members cared enough to get into the weeds of day to day management with them, but we quickly learned that the staff did not have access to the information or the tools they needed to manage a large operation without an ED. They needed leaders who could make decisions.
Every board member agreed to partner with a program area. We met with staff liaisons regularly and made the treasurer the ultimate decision maker in case of emergencies. We operated like this for nearly 8 months. We got our heads into operations very quickly but were challenged to make complex decisions without turning back to the ‘group’ for consensus. We did not know the scope and extent of our authority.
In the end, no one died in the making of our working board. BUT, while it only took us a couple of weeks to become a working board, it took the best part of two years to become a policy board again. We kept digging into operations.
Has your board committed to a working plan, or are you trying out several options and hoping one sticks?