Catherine Raso | Governance Consulting

Policy Governance

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If your Board is considering Policy Governance®, then Catherine Raso can help you to consider the costs and benefits of using its principles.

Catherine has been personally trained in the theory and implementation of Policy Governance at the first Academy in 1995 in Atlanta, Georgia. Since then Catherine has co-authored The Policy Governance Fieldbook (Jossey-Bass 1999), has been the chair of the International Policy Governance Association annual Conference (2007, Washington DC), and was co-founder and organizer of 11 annual International Policy Governance Symposiums. Catherine is a regular annual presenter at the annual IPGA Conferences, always receiving very high ratings for highly informative, excellent and engaging presentations.

Catherine is one of the most experienced Policy Governance consultants in the world.

Catherine is highly skilled and very experienced in Policy Governance theory and implementation and offers the following packages of Policy Governance training for Boards of directors:

Step 1 Understanding Policy Governance:

Time required: One day with Board and CEO, with the goals of:

The Board will understand the implications and benefits of using Policy Governance. This includes all preparation by the consultant, including full documentation review (bylaws, Board minutes, and existing policies) as well interviews with key Board and staff personnel.

There is no commitment to proceed to Step 2.

Step 2 Full Implementation Including Policy Development:

Part I (1.5 days on-site with Board—this can be spread out over 1-3 sessions)

Development of all of the Board's governance policies, in the 4 categories of: Governance Process, Board-Management Delegation, Executive Limitations and Ends. This includes the Board and CEO understanding of the implications of having Board policies in the 4 categories, as well as how to use and monitor all of the policies.

Part II (on-going off-site support for CEO and Board Chair) Part III (on-site with Board)

"Full" implementation means that CMR Consulting offers full support and coaching to the Board and CEO so that the new governance system is fully ready to be used.

Step 3 Optional Coaching in Specific Areas:

Coaching services include:

Principles of Policy Governance

1. Ownership:

The board connects its authority and accountability to those who morally if not legally own the organization—if such a class exists beyond the board itself—seeing its task as servant-leader to and for that group. "Owners", as used in the Policy Governance model, are not all stakeholders, but only those who stand in a position corresponding to shareholders in an equity corporation.

2. Governance Position:

With the ownership above it and operational matters below it, governance forms a distinct link in the chain of command or moral authority. Its role is commander, not advisor. It exists to exercise that authority and properly empower others rather than to be management's consultant, ornament, or adversary. The board—not the staff—bears full and direct responsibility for the process and products of governance, just as it bears accountability for any authority and performance expectations delegated to others.

3. Board Holism:

The board makes authoritative decisions directed toward management and toward itself, its individual members, and committees only as a total group. That is, the board's authority is a group authority rather than a summation of individual authorities.

4. Ends Policies:

The board defines in writing the (a) results, changes, or benefits that should come about for specified (b) recipients, beneficiaries, or otherwise defined impacted groups, and (c) at what cost or relative priority for the various benefits or various beneficiaries. These are not all the possible "side benefits" that may occur, but those that form the purpose of the organization, the achievement of which constitutes organizational success. Policy documents containing solely these decisions are categorized as "Ends" in describing the Policy Governance model.

5. Board Means Policies:

The board defines in writing those behaviors, values-added, practices, disciplines, and conduct of the board itself and of the board's delegation/ accountability relationship with its own subcomponents and with the executive part (staff) of the organization. Because these are non-ends decisions, they are called "board means" to distinguish them from ends and staff means. In describing the Policy Governance model, documents containing solely these decisions are categorized as Governance Process and Board-Management Delegation.

6. Executive Limitations Policies:

The board makes decisions with respect to its staff's means decisions and actions only in a proscriptive way in order simultaneously (a) to avoid prescribing means and (b) to put off limits those means that would be unacceptable even if they work. Policy documents containing solely these decisions are categorized as "Executive Limitations" in describing the Policy Governance model.

7. Policy "Sizes":

The board's decisions in Ends, Governance Process, Board-Management Delegation, and Executive Limitations are made beginning at the broadest, most inclusive level and, if necessary, continuing into more detailed levels that narrow the interpretative range of higher levels, one articulated level at a time. These documents—which replace or obviate board expressions of mission, vision, philosophy, values, strategy, and budget—are called policies in describing the Policy Governance model.

8. Delegation to Management:

If the board chooses to delegate to management through a chief executive officer, it honors the exclusive authority/ accountability of that role as the sole connector between governance and management.

9. Any Reasonable Interpretation:

In delegating further decisions—beyond the ones recorded in board policies—the board grants the delegatee the right to use any reasonable interpretation of those policies. In the case of Ends and Executive Limitations when a CEO exists, that delegatee is the CEO. In the case of Governance Process and Board-Management Delegation, that delegatee is the CGO (chief governance officer) except when the board has explicitly designated another board member or board committee.

10. Monitoring:

The board monitors organizational performance through fair but systematic assessment of whether a reasonable interpretation of its Ends policies is being achieved and a reasonable interpretation of its Executive Limitations policies is being avoided. If there is a CEO, this constitutes the CEO's performance evaluation.

Policy Governance is the registered service mark of John Carver.
The authoritative website for the Policy Governance model can be found at


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