I had the pleasure of going to Ottawa in November to attend the CAMRT National Network meeting. During the round table discussions it appeared to be a common theme that all the provinces were struggling with policy governance in one way or another. The recent change in leadership at the ACMDTT with the hiring of our new CEO, Karen Stone, sparked Council to begin making some much needed changes to the policy governance style that we were using.
Since inception, the ACMDTT operated under the Carver model of Governance. This is a wonderful model of Governance, but it is very rigid. There were many challenges that we faced with this this model, and I will list some of the specific problems we ran into:
- Council did not feel sufficiently informed to make decisions. Under the Carver model the Council did not have a role in approving the College budget and the model limited us to the questions we could ask about the budget.
- We were not involved in the formation of a strategic plan. This is seen as a staff role within the Carver model.
- We spent 80% of our face to face Council meetings monitoring policies, changing wording and adding punctuation. We were not engaged as a board in generative dialogue and forward thinking and planning, and as a result had many talented people leave the board because they were not utilized for their skills.
In a fairly short period of time we have made some wonderful changes within Council and are already seeing the rewards. The changes we have made thus far have been fairly minor, but have allowed for major opportunities within the board. The Carver policies we have in place are good, solid policies. So, we were not starting over from scratch. We are simply modifying the necessary policies to allow for more latitude in respect of Council involvement, while maintaining a policy governance approach. Our CEO is guided by Executive Limitations, and we as Council don’t get into the operational detail, we understand our role as governors and enable the CEO to make our strategic directions happen.
We now label ourselves as a Complimentary Governance board, meaning the Council and the CEO work together collaboratively in a complimentary fashion. We have formed two new workgroups within Council: a finance and audit workgroup – to take a closer look at the finances, to ask the necessary questions and to present back to Council, rather than us all looking at a spreadsheet with glazed over eyes. Council members with special interest or skills in finance sit on this workgroup. The second workgroup is the governance workgroup. This workgroup is responsible for reviewing and monitoring policies and bylaws and presenting suggested changes back to Council for approval.
Since making these changes Council has become much more engaged and empowered. Council members feel like they are actually contributing to make the College better, which in essence is better for the membership and for the protection of the public.
Governance is constantly evolving and changing. We are not experts at it and ensure there is governance education provided at each face to face Council meeting. We have replaced the hours of time in our Council meetings once used to review policies on rich discussions and generative dialogue. I highly recommend all members consider applying for a Council position and becoming involved in the future of the College!
As we head into the holiday season and embrace a new year I would like to thank all of the members for your professionalism, your commitment and dedication to ensuring Albertans are receiving excellent care.
Kelly Sampson, MRT(T)