Governance

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In my last blog I spoke about the importance of Vision, Governance and Leadership.

I’d like to explore the issue of governance further. Having been the Chair of Governors at the local High School as well as CEO at several membership bodies I can appreciate the pitfalls of getting this wrong at first hand.

Getting this right is vitally important for membership organisations like BIDs. Often, that just means being seen to be open to change. The easiest way to do this is consult people. I vividly remember a lesson from a consultation that told us that the respondents really valued the training we offered. I looked at the list of those that had replied and mapped that to attendees at the training. Guess what? A huge mismatch as many of those that said they valued the opportunity never actually attended. So, the lesson is to give people the opportunity, even if many don’t take it up.

For an organisation like a BID with a 5 year term much will have changed over that time.
Some of the top 20 retailers 5 years ago no longer exist, putting aside the changes in personnel and new entrants. Engaging, and giving opportunity to, these new businesses and personalities is vital.

Any member based business, not for profit or otherwise, will have a constitution, usually formalised as the Memorandum & Articles of Association. It’s one of those things that tend to get a lot of attention initially, especially when starting up, and is then put in the draw and forgotten!

But times and circumstances change and so does the law. There have been major changes in the way electronic communication has developed for example. So, even if you end up not making radical changes to your legal status you might need to change representation and ensure compliance. Not least to make best use of technology to aid communications.

Technology has advanced at such a rapid pace that few of us have really been able to take account of the full implications, maximising the opportunities and manage the activities of our networks and members.  Nowhere is this a truer statement than in the area of Governance.  We try to adhere to what we think might be the principles of best practice when in reality many of us are not even sure how to define best practice.  There is a session from Wright Hassall Solicitors on the Impact of E-communications on Governance, on behalf of the Institute of Association Management on 24th May that might be worth a look.

But being compliant is one thing. Meeting needs members is another. Within the context of a BID, being a levy payer does not necessarily confer “membership” of course. It is very convenient in terms of administration to keep these separate. However you structure the governing body, ensuring transparency and appropriate representation is paramount. I have read an article recently that suggested that one of the reasons the Torbay BID failed at a renewal ballot was this issue. It does take many detractors who they have no voice to whip up a mountain from a mole hill.

A review every 5 years isn’t too much to ask is it?

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