IACP Governace

by Adam on September 6, 2013

I was out in Chicago recently, attending an International Association of Culinary Professionals board meeting as part of the conference planning process. While the two-day meeting covered much of the usual ground around procedural and organization task-setting, we spent a whole day focused on board governance that I found to be a fascinating exercise in how to lead organizations of any kind. While I won’t go into detail about all the specifics, there was something very useful that came out of the day-long discussion.

IACP is similar to other organizations in the service sector, in that we operate with both a Board of Directors, who volunteer their time and have typically spent years as members of the organization; and staff members, full-time, paid employees who help to carry out the mission of IACP. Many times in large organizations, the lines between the operational work of staff, and the long-term vision of the Board often get blurred, and it becomes imperative to reaffirm the mission of each to assure continued organization success.

In our meeting, this mission was described as such:

The relationship between an organization’s Board of Directors and its staff is similar to that of a bicycle. Any bike has two wheels, one that provides direction, the other that provides forward motion. An organization’s Board is the front wheel, affirming vision and direction that chart a course for an organization. The Board answers questions about what the organization should do, why they should do it, and when it should be done. An organization’s staff is the back wheel, providing the person-power that moves these vision-related objectives forward. The staff answers questions about how these goals will get accomplished, and who will do them (and then accomplishes those goals).

It’s a great analogy, and one perhaps that is hard to appreciate until serving on a Board. The reason is because it’s easy for a Board of Directors to slip into discussions about how objectives should be completed, who should do them, and at times, jumps in with directors filling those roles themselves. This situation becomes highly counterproductive because if the organization’s Board is focused on the minutia of getting individual tasks done, they lose focus on long-term vision and direction for the organization.

As with any kind of work that involves planning and long-term consideration, these kinds of exercises are crucial to continuing to refine an organization’s focus and be sure that Board, staff and members are onboard and clear on their roles within that organization.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: