Generative Governance: Making Sense of Problems through Critical Inquiry

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Generative Governance: Making Sense of Problems through Critical Inquiry
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Generative Governance: Making Sense of Problems through Critical Inquiry

Published July 11, 2016
By  Makiyah Moody, BoardSource

Board meetings tend to remind me of sitcoms: a genre of comedy centered on characters who share a common environment, such as a home, workplace, or a boardroom, with laughable moments. There is usually a board member who lacks self-awareness (i.e. Kramer from Seinfeld), someone who has a very high level of self-orientation (i.e. Barney from How I Met Your Mother) or an individual who seems clueless most of the meeting but can surprise you with a flash of insight in the right moment (i.e. Phoebe from Friends or Woody from Cheers.)

The diversity of social-emotional and intellectual capacity present at board meetings makes it ever more important for boards to manage their time in an optimal way that enables the organization to determine the best way forward to mission fulfillment.  According to the seminal work by Chait, Ryan and Taylor,Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of the Nonprofit Boards, there are three governance modes:  fiduciary governance, strategic governance, and generative governance. If you think about these three modes as rungs on a ladder that reaches to greater heights of critical thinking, then fiduciary is foundational, strategic is intermediate, and generative is advanced.

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