Good Governance Project
APA launched the Good Governance Project in January 2011 as part of the strategic plan to “[assure] APA’s governance practices, processes and structures are optimized and aligned with what is needed to thrive in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment.” The charge includes inviting broad input from key stakeholders, learning about current best practices in governance, making a recommendation about whether or not the current structure requires change, and if so, in consultation with stakeholders, recommending needed changes accompanied by data driven rationale and implementation plans.
If you have any questions or ideas, please contact Nancy Gordon Moore.
Report to the Council of Representatives
Between February-July 2011, governance gathered data using:
- Guided group discussions with the council and others, with 270 written responses.
- 30 qualitative telephone interviews.
- Over 400 surveys from all key stakeholder groups to assess perceptions of APA's governance.
- Initial benchmarking interviews with relevant associations to collect stories of how other organizations are addressing governance issues.
The entire GGP team participated in a rigorous review and analysis of the data. They identified areas to further explore in order to determine if APA’s governance practices, processes and structures are optimized and aligned with what is needed to thrive in today's rapidly changing, increasingly complex environment. The team continues to:
- Test themes emerging in the initial data.
- Share relevant information about success trends in governance and alternative strategies.
- Conduct in depth discussions and collect feedback on key governance topics.
As part of the assessment, the team looked at the data in light of typical symptoms of stress in the governance system (PDF, 72KB) and developed a taxonomy of governance (PDF, 141KB) to assist in the analysis.
Themes from the gathered data
- APA’s governance is a) complex, b) at times cumbersome, c) does not always result in timely decisions, d) provides opportunities for everyone to be heard, which is seen as a great strength, and e) generally results in good decisions, albeit slowly.
- There is confusion distinguishing between involvement in governance and the programmatic systems and processes that engage members in the organization. Currently at APA, the primary way to engage with the organization is to become involved in governance.
- There is a general lack of clarity about who is responsible for what, with little evidence of accountability. This is true both organizationally and individually, and for volunteers and staff.
- Responses, in general, expressed parochial views, filtered through constituency lenses.
- APA's governance is perceived to be a closed and political system. There is dynamic competition for leadership positions and recycling is commonplace, which impacts the balance between institutional knowledge and fresh ideas. There is widespread discouragement among those who seek to enter leadership roles.
- There is a lack of process for identifying priorities. All issues seem to be handled as “one size fits all” — everyone is invited to weigh in on everything.
- There is frustration about governance, as well as hope for change, and there is general agreement that governance needs to be “updated.” This is accompanied by a desire to “not lose anything.”