Governance and Governing – key questions to ask (and keep asking)

We have seen how the way organisations are governed is a huge determinant in whether or not they are sustainable. To identify a well governed organisation you need to identify three different characteristics – effectiveness, responsibility and sustainability. What it does must work, it must be done right and it must last! The reality though is that organisations do not act – the people controlling them act. A company has no life of its own outside of the people making and implementing decisions about what will be done in the name of the company. Any company therefore can become an instrument for incredible good or incredible harm.

We also identified the fact that every company or organisation is part of a much larger system – the entire economy is made up of interlinked and interdependent parts. Being part of this system means therefore that very little happens in the economy without impacting and affecting other parts of the economy – with globalisation this also means that very little can happen in one part of the world without it affecting other parts of the globe.

The more effective, responsible and sustainable each and every part of the system is the more effective, responsible and sustainable the whole will be.

Some questions directors and decision makers in organisations must ask themselves are;

  • How effective, responsible and sustainable is what we are doing?
  • How effective, responsible and sustainable are the other parts of the system we are part of (suppliers, customers, economic factors etc.)?
  • What can we do to ensure that in our decision making we assess the effectiveness, responsibility and sustainability of our actions?
  • What information do we require in this new environment to make decisions (in the past we mainly looked at financial data)?
  • How can we make sure that as an organisation we are known for being effective, responsible and sustainable?
  • Where do we as an organisation make and impact and what is the nature of that impact?
  • What can we do to minimise/manage the impact of our decisions and actions?
  • What are the most important things for us to be doing to ensure that we act effectively, responsibly and sustainably?
  • If we asked our major external stakeholders (those impacted by our business) would they say we are acting effectively, responsibly and sustainably?
  • If we asked our employees would they say we are acting effectively, responsibly and sustainably?

Can you think of any other questions we should all be asking that would ensure we get better and better at being effective, responsible and sustainable? (add to comments)

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