Use a formal motion to receive monitoring reports

A board using Policy Governance® may demand a monitoring report at any time. Generally, the board establishes a schedule so that all of its policies are monitored at reasonable intervals. Receiving monitoring reports is a crucial part of the board’s diligence in ensuring that the organization is achieving what it must and is avoiding what the board has said is forbidden. What, then, does the board do when the monitoring reports arrive? [The rest of this article is in the next pane. If you cannot see it, please click on the title.]

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The monitoring report will begin with a restatement of the policy (so that the board member does not have to look it up). The CEO will then provide her or his interpretation of that policy. This interpretation will include operational definitions so the reader will be able to learn both the practical application of the policy as well as the metrics that will be used to track it.

Finally the CEO (or whomever has the job of reporting) will describe the accomplishment of the interpretation. Here the board should know the current situation, complete with data to support the description.

Regardless of when a monitoring report (or a package of reports) is due, there must be time for the board members to read and understand the contents of the reports. It is unreasonable for the board to be handed the reports at the meeting where they are to be considered.

While the action taken during a board meeting, in response to monitoring reports, will seem to happen quickly, it is not trivial. It assumes that each board member has taken the time to carefully read and reflect upon the contents of each report.

When reading a monitoring report the first thing to note is the original policy as stated by the board. This the board member (the reader) will review that so as to compare that with the results of the board’s words. This is followed by the CEO’s reasonable interpretation. Here is where each board member considers whether the CEO’s interpretation of the board’s policy is truly reasonable, and whether their original policy was stated correctly.

It is important that the reader of the report should be able to trace the whole process from the policy created by the board to the current situation. If this is not possible, simply by reading the report, then the report is not adequate. If the CEO is reporting compliance with the policy, it should be obvious just by reading the report.

The last part of the report will include the accomplishment of the interpretation. Do the data provided support the assertion of compliance?

During the meeting the board members will not be asked to approve or reject the report but only to receive it as required and find that it does or does not demonstrate a reasonable interpretation of the relevant policy. In receiving the report, the board will be commenting only on the subjects of the two questions: 1) whether the interpretation is or is not reasonable and 2) whether the data confirm the reported accomplishment of the interpretation. What is important here is that the report is not being approved or rejected. It was required by policy and it is received. It must now become part of the record.

How does a board formally record a motion to receive the report?

Here is wording for the motion that is model-consistent:

The board acknowledges that on {date of receipt} the board received a monitoring report from {name and title of person accountable for providing this report}. This monitoring report demonstrates/does not demonstrate reasonable interpretation of the relevant policy(ies), and provides/does not provide data that confirms the accomplishment of the interpretation in relation to: {name and number of policies}. This report was scheduled for submission on {date} and to be prepared by {name and title} as described in Board-Management Delegation policy {name and number} or Board resolution {date}. A copy of this monitoring report is attached to the minutes of this meeting.

This is a significant change to the process of receiving monitoring reports that are suggested in the text book by John and Miriam Carver, Reinventing Your Board and to the templates that I have provided to clients. The point here is that while the PG model may not demand this level of detail, it is consistent with the model. As part of the practice of PG, we consider it to be necessary.

If the substance of a monitoring report has raised concerns in the minds of the board members, that is managed by the board after the report has been received.

This article is part of a series of articles exploring better ways of providing monitoring in a Policy Governance environment. I am grateful to have been able to collaborate with Sherry Jennings for all aspects of this project.

© 2008 R. Ballantyne. All rights reserved. This is for your use at your computer screen. For reproduction of any kind you will need the written permission of the author.

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