My Learning Journey in Community Governance – Part 1

“an open reflection from the QUT EMBA program – corporate governance and accountability course”

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

What was the most important thing you learnt from the course – and why?

Prior to commencing this course, in addition to my public sector career, I had a few years lived experience under my belt through volunteer committee/non-exec director roles and executive-management roles within education and Not-for-profit sector (kinder committee, school council, small charitable organisations etc).

At this stage, I considered my appreciation and love of governance from two mutually exclusive perspectives:

1. The technical perspective: legal, financial, regulatory, stakeholder management, organisational structure, controls, strategy etc; and

2. The human perspective: The people observation through organisational and committee evolution.

“The most important learning for me through this course, was that these two elements are not mutually exclusive, and as a consequence there was a blind spot in my corporate governance understanding and practice” (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Conceptual map of my corporate governance capability gap

I highly valued the role-play approach to the course, as it embedded learning and facilitated knowledge transfer to practice, albeit within the constraints of simulation. The capability gap described above has progressively reduced through course micro-moments, such as:

  • Insolvency Risk – embedding learning about financial and non-financial indicators of insolvency i.e. how to integrate the people stuff with the number crunching to gain holistic view
  • Interpretation of fiduciary duties:
    • learning about how trust and motivation are the underpinning elements to delivering a service with honesty and proper purpose i.e. one of the reasons we implement conflict of interest policies is to help a Director bring their internal (conscious and potentially sub-conscious) motivations ‘above the green line’ – as acting honestly does not necessarily equate to acting with proper purpose.
    • learning about how effort and skill are the underpinning elements to delivering a service with due care and diligence i.e whilst I intuitively recommended implementation of a capability framework and learning and development agenda for the Board in the take home exam, I was unable to articulate in lay terms, the rationale outside of referencing statute and case law. In my experience with grassroots Boards/community committees, you need to communicate the ‘right dosage’ in consideration of the relative governance maturity of the group and not in academic speak. I am deeply grateful for this new language.

How does this compare to your lived experience of community governance?

What elements of my reflection are you curious to hear more about?

Do you need assistance with governance and decision making?

There are some great free resources available from Australian Institute of Company Directors, Institute of Community Directors Australia and Autralian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, otherwise I can help.

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