Board Room

Most organizational problems have their origin the board room, which means that the fix must also occur in the board room. Organizational effectiveness begins in the board room.

The classic symptoms of board of directors problems are micromanagement and rubber stamping. Micromanagement involves usurping management’s authority, rubber stamping ignores board authority, respectively.

Proper diagnosis is essential for proper treatment.

A board of directors that is unhappy with reactivity, trivia, and hollow ritual — a board of directors that is determined to be accountable for making a real difference in tomorrow’s world — is encouraged to consider organizational development through John Carver’s Policy Governance®.

Special thanks and appreciation to John Carver and his Policy Governance® model for board of directors leadership and structure. However, Carver’s model is secular based and not appropriate for organizations (churches and other non-profits) that want to be faithfully and effectively involved in Christian ministry. We believe the model of John Carver is seriously flawed at its foundation, which particularly impacts Christian organizations. With the proper adjustment, however, much of Carver’s work is quite useful. For more information, see Biblical Governance.


Policy Governance® is a registered service mark of John Carver.

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2 comments for “Board Room

  1. August 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    As a trained member of the clergy myself and a trained Policy Governance consultant, I was surprised to read the last paragraph of your blog posting which argues that Policy Governance is inappropriate for religious organizations. I was waiting to read your reasoning which was not there.

    In fact, many religious organizations utilize a Policy Governance model with great effect, most notably and successfully, the Unitarian Universalist movement, various synagogues, etc.
    You rightly declare that “Proper diagnosis is essential for proper treatment” but your diagnosis of the problems of Boards of Directors seems misplaced.

    The problem is not simply rubberstamping or even micromanaging. The real problem is that when boards are in a management role, making decisions about *how* to reach an organizational objective, they are in a role conflict. They have the authority to make decisions but there is no one whose sole responsibility is to look out for the interests of the “moral owners.” Claiming that Policy Governance is inappropriate because it is “secular” is at least an ad hominem as well as a misunderstanding of the philosophical/religious foundation. It is like arguing that computers are not appropriate for churches because they are secular.

    Policy Governance recognizes that without some external entity to provide oversight, people will tend to act in their own best interests rather than in the best interests of the people they serve. As it says in Genesis 6:5, 8:15, יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע (The creative nature of human beings is evil from his youth). Everyone needs someone watching over them, someone who can hold them accountable, immediately, not after death.

    Policy Governance creates that independent body to serve in place of the moral owners of the organization. For religious organizations who view God as being THE ultimate moral owner, the Board tries its best to understand and protect God’s interests and desires.

    Barry Diamond
    Governance Consultant

  2. August 16, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Barry, thanks for your comment. I recently changed this site over to WordPress, and some of the links failed. I have fixed them and corrected the reference to the supporting article at the bottom of the page.

    Your ad hominem accusation is premature. We can take up that discussion on the Biblical Governance page, if you want.

    I agree that boards in management mode are in role conflict, and that this world accountability is essential.

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