for the Carver Policy Governance® Model
In Policy Governance, means refers to any behavior or outcome that doesn't fulfill the definition of ends. In other words, means are non-ends. So if a decision is not about designating the kind of result that justifies organizational existence, nor the recipients/beneficiaries of those results, nor the worth of those results, then it is by definition a means decision. The board and staff both make means decisions. The fact that a decision is a means decision rather than ends does not imply that it is a small or inconsequential decision. Means decisions can be extremely important, even crucial to organizational survival. Not going broke, for example, is a means issue; it is obviously crucial, but it is not why the organization exists.
Only one of four categories of policies is written proscriptively, so the majority are not in negative language. Still, a board's writing down what the CEO shall not do is an unfamiliar style. The theory reason for the "shall not" wording is thatgiven the accomplishment of endsthe board in Policy Governance gives the CEO as much freedom as possible, short of a latitude that would include imprudent and unethical behavior. Hence, instead of taking on the interminable task of telling the CEO and his or her staff how to do their jobs (thereby damaging the degree to which the CEO can be held accountable), the board imposes limits and can get safely out of the way. These limits describe the board's values about prudence and ethics and have the form of "stop here and go no further" rather than "do things a certain way." The result is an unfamiliar, but extremely succinct, policy wording that places more value on precision governance than on rhetorically pleasing language.
No. Only when the board instructs management with respect to management's means must it set boundaries rather than be prescriptive. Two categories of board policies address the means of the board rather than of the staff. In these policies, the board can use normal prescriptive language. These two categories are usually called Governance Process and Board-Management Delegation. The idea is that the board can certainly tell itself what to do, but will empower staff safely and better by only saying what it shall not do.
It depends on what you mean by "get into." In Policy Governance, the board is in control of every possible aspect of organization except that which might in some cases be controlled by the ownership. But the board's control is through expressing ends and limits on staff means, then demanding data to prove achievement and compliance. We've heard of a school board's CEO who, upon being confronted by board interest in a report of unsafe buses, let the board know that was her territory, not the board's. Assuming the board has, in an executive limitations policy, disallowed unsafe conditions, then the CEO may well be in violation of board policy. Board delegation to the CEO does not free the CEO from having to comply with relevant board policies. It does free the CEO from board intrusions that are not founded in board policy, the kind of capricious meddling that is not criterion-based.
In governance as commonly practiced, such a board statement would be irresponsible. Policy Governance, however, provides a mechanism by which the board can safely say exactly that with respect to its CEO's decisions about means. The safeguard lies in thoughtfully putting unacceptable staff actions, situations, and decisions "off limits" using a descending level-by-level articulation of policy. The level-by-level approach enables the board to control everything at least broadly and carefully selected things to a greater degree. This practice enables the board to responsibly delegate greater authority for use in achieving ends to which the board is committed.
The board does not ignore budgeting in Policy Governance, but gives it very systematic consideration. The purpose of budgeting is to plan receipts and disbursements so that (a) ends are achieved and (b) financial jeopardy is avoided. As to avoiding financial jeopardy, Policy Governance forces a board to decide what in its situation constitutes "jeopardy," then to prohibit jeopardy as it has carefully defined it. Few non-Policy Governance boards have ever done that, preferring to follow the conventional seat-of-the-pants approval process with its scattered attention to trivia as well as (or instead of) the profound. Rigorous and systematic monitoring throughout the year completes the feedback loop, providing a continual check on whether ongoing budgeting meets board expectations. So while the typical budget approval isn't necessary (and is even destructive), closer monitoring of carefully decided budget factors more than compensates. The result is greater board control over what it considers relevant plus greater executive flexibility at the same time.
There is nothing wrong with the word or the concept of service; the word denotes a noble human activity. The problem arises when the word obscures the omission of just what human change (improvement, alteration) is supposed to occur for whom and the degree of such change that justifies resources consumedin other words, what the activity we call service is for rather than what it does. In Policy Governance terms, servicehowever important and well-intendedis classified as means, not ends. Service is not virtue in itself, but exists for specifiable benefit to someone other than the server.
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