Friday, December 18, 2015

Governance toolbox: A generative video gift

Sometimes, a girl just has to stop, step back, and bow to the masters. I found myself doing that twice this week - first in Tuesday's interview with John Fulwider and yesterday when I encountered the singular focus of this week's toolbox.

Cathy Trower is not only a leading voice sharing the foundations of Governance as Leadership and its most revolutionary element, generative governance, she is quite frankly the practice master. Yesterday, she released a LinkedIn post featuring a series of short videos exploring aspects of that framing that foster great governance. Santa arrived early for me. He'll make it to you and your board members the moment you review and share the links below with them. Because there is so much governance goodness within - on topics that never get the kind of visibility they truly deserve - they receive all of the spotlight in this week's toolbox.

A series of podcasts about great governance -- This is the entire package, contained within the LinkedIn post. Each video is brief and can (and should) be watched and enjoyed separately. But there also is value in doing as I did yesterday, in taking 30 or so minutes to simply sit down and click through to the end. The connections and the larger story of what it takes to govern effectively and generatively are clear.  After you've watched, please share the link with your board. Include a promise to spend time discussing them together.

That said, I want to pull out a couple of videos that I found particularly powerful and worthy of focus with your board, alone or in tandem with another.

This may be one of the best, most concise descriptions of generative thinking ever made publicly available. Whenever I talk about either GAL or generative governance, I can pretty much guarantee questions and skepticism about an idea that can feel pretty fuzzy. It's simply not something that we've naturally embraced as an essential part of governing. Rather than something we maybe squish into a retreat somewhere, Trower describes it as the "headwaters," the starting point where we develop a "shared strategy of understanding in the boardroom before we get to a shared understanding of strategy" (nod to GAL co-author Richard Chait).

Because you knew I'd gravitate toward the "questions" topic, I must highlight this one. In this video, Trower contrasts the power of generative questions with the typical ways in which we engage boards in discussion.  I'll just leave this here and let you take away your own messages about why those questions are not frills that distract from your board's "real" work...

How do we use these videos as tools? Easy. First, share the original link with your board and include an expectation to watch and reflect. If you have a board portal or other systematic way of making resources available, add that link. Consider sharing and using all or part of it as part of your new member orientation process (yes, process...).

Second, do as I did and pull out one of the videos for featured discussion and reflection in a future meeting. Better yet, ask a board member to lead that process and facilitate a meaningful peer learning experience. Focus not only on the general concepts discussed but on application: what that work looks like in your board - or should look like if your board has work to do. Conclude with identification of specific steps and commitments to building your board's capacity in that area.

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