Ten “next truths” of governing the 21st century association
by Jeff De Cagna
January 9, 2013
In my last post on six serious ideas for 2013, I discussed the concept of“strategic legitimacy,” which is about challenging association boards to do abetter job of providing future-focused stewardship in a world experiencingrelentless transformation. To inspire association leaders to embrace strategiclegitimacy, I have identified the following ten “next truths” of governing the21st century association. By articulating these ten beliefs about the new work ofgoverning, I’m hoping to replace some of the old baggage that still weighs downboard performance. Boards that choose to take these ways of thinking seriouslyand integrate them into their governing approach going forward will move morenaturally toward strategic legitimacy. As always, I welcome your feedback!
Governing is about nurturing shared responsibility for stewardship–Whileboards occupy the primary role in governing, they must conduct their work inways that include other contributors and encourage them to acceptresponsibility for collaborating to build a stronger organization.
Governing mindset is more important than governing mechanics–Whenboards and other contributors think about the work of governing holistically, itcreates more opportunity for meaningful transformation than does a focus onthe minutiae of the governing structure.
Governing requires a design orientation–Boards capable of adopting theright mindset recognize governing as something that can be designed to meetorganizational needs within the constraints established by external thirdparties.
Governing must be a principle-centered activity–Boards can deepen theircommitment to governing intentionally by adopting shared principles that serveas an adaptable yet resilient framework for making more effective decisions.
Governing is about creating spaces for dissent–When boards openlywelcome dissent and embrace the essential role it plays in makingorganizational progress, the governing process builds greater trust among allstakeholders.
Governing is about crafting business models that integrate purposefulaction and profitability–Ensuring the proper functioning of the association’sexisting business model, as well as creating the conditions for ongoing businessmodel innovation, is the most important expression of fiduciary responsibilityfor boards.
Governing is about bringing a new level of focus and discipline to doingless–Boards must help prioritize the organizational activities that can beperformed with maximum excellence to deliver maximum impact forstakeholders and avoid wasting resources on doing everything at an acceptablelevel of quality and meaning.
Governing is about investing in capabilities for thick value creation–Tosustain the effective operation of the association’s business model over time,boards must understand and allocate resources to build the capabilitiesnecessary to create truly meaningful value for stakeholders.
Governing is about learning and discovery through open collaboration andinnovation–Boards can enrich and extend the experience and expertise theybring to the governing process by enabling collaboration and innovation todiscover more of what they “don’t know what they don’t know.”
Governing is a conscious choice to capitalize on the loss of control–Boardscan increase their influence by recognizing the loss of control as an opportunityto invite new and “unusual” contributors into collaborative relationships withtheir organizations.