Thursday, June 3, 2010

The future of boards- Inspiring Education

People are talking about the Inspiring Education Report (launched yesterday by Minister Hancock) and what it will mean for the future of education and school boards (go to and enter #inspiringed into the search box to see all the chatter!) Minister Hancock confirmed that boards will continue but they will change. Some people are worried, some are suspicious, some are quietly optimistic, some are wondering why it has taken so long!

My reaction?  I'm excited, especially when I see generative governance cited in the document (around p. 35). I've been reading some excellent summaries on the topic of generative governance and will be learning more about it this weekend, when I attend the Public School Board Association of Alberta's conference in Red Deer.

I'm certainly no expert, but here's my limited understanding of generative governance, based on the work of Chait, Ryan & Taylor (Book:  "Governance as Leadership" ) There are three types of governance explained in the book- fiduciary, strategic and generative.
Fudiciary Governance focuses on control mechanisms like financial oversight, legal responsibilities, supervision through one employee (CEO) . It asks: "What's wrong?" and focuses on facts, figures and reports.
Strategic Governance focuses on direction setting, policy making and strategic planning.  It asks: "What's the plan?" and focuses on strategic indicators, looking to solve problems through empirical and logical discussion.
Generative Governance focuses on making sense, creating a fresh understanding of complex and ambiguous situations. It is characterized by noticing clues, looking at an issue from different perspectives, reorganizing data into patterns and "recognizing the organization's compelling stories and history".  It asks: "What is the question?" and is more informal and creative.

To me, Generative Governance sounds like a whole lot more fun!!!

But, some may see it as a loss of power and a precarious venture into something vague and uncertain.

An excellent article by David O. Renz, Ph.D, called "Reframing Governance" was handed to me this week. This article suggests that the evolution of governance will include the need for different voices at the table and those voices will need to be seen as equals. Often, multiple organizations or agencies will need to work together in a collaborative fashion to solve complex issues. As with all truly collaborative ventures, the lines of authority become blurry as a more responsive, flexible, inclusive structure is developed. With a shared power-dynamic, those who can build bridges of understanding and shared purpose will be the most influential, not necessarily the typical, "one annoited leader". In fact, leaders will shift and change with time and projects. This will not be a top-down, hierarchical model of governance, instead it will be network based and therefore it will require different skills, knowledge and abilities. For more on this, order this excellent summary

So, my humble reaction to the thought of school boards being restructured to include more voices from the community, to strengthen the relationship with the community and to engage in a power-sharing model with the community?

"Yes, please."


rjkoopmans said...

Well I must say Sue that for a lady not trying to helm a second term, your broadcast orations are inspiring! Keep it up! Never lose your passion for the arts!

Rory J. Koopmans

Ruth Snyder said...

Sue, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. Being a trustee is not about power, it is about doing what is best for kids. If we can get our communities working together for kids, everyone will benefit