Five Propositions for Good Sport Organization Governance (Paul Jurbala)
# 1- Governance is both Structure AND Process:
Structure is committees and board composition, but processes are the rules for working together. We tend to focus only on structure, but when there is governance trouble that amounts to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. We need to focus on how people work together to make governance effective.
#2- Long Term Organization Development:
Governance has to change as the organization changes. Structures and processes are not carved in stone. Don't wait for a crisis before making governance improvements. That means revisiting governance structure and process every time you renew the strategic plan.
#3- Job One of every sport organization is transforming participants and athletes to higher states of performance:
That could mean reaching an Olympic podium or it could mean Grandpa running his first 5 K, depending on the context. This is where Canadian Sport for Life comes in- it's the framework for development which is the basis of the mission. Governance exists only to serve that mission, by creating conditions for employee, volunteer and program success.
#4- Stewardship AND Leadership in balance:
Governance is the sum of these two activities: Stewardship means protecting the resources and credibility of the organization, but Leadership drives it forward toward attaining its mission. You can measure the time spent on each simply by reading an agenda. Too much of one or the other leads to governance disease: too much stewardship leads to stand-pat, risk-adverse organizations, but too much leadership can quickly lead the organization into deep water.
#5- Organizational outcome is the ONLY test of governance success:
It’s results that count, not congeniality or serenity. An effective organization where Board members argue like cats and dogs trumps an organization in which people pat each other on the back and do nothing. Although conflict can be destructive the bottom line is organizational impact, not playing nice. Aim for constructive criticism: challenge ideas in the service of attaining the mission. Athlete development always comes first.
Paul Jurbala is a member of the Canadian Sport for Life Leadership Team. He has worked in sport for 30 years, and now runs his own consulting and management business, communityactive consulting. He has developed strategic plans, LTAD plans, Competition Reviews and High-Performance Program Reviews for National and Provincial Sport and Multi-Sport Organizations. Paul holds a M.Sc. degree in Exercise Physiology and is currently studying in the PhD program in Sport Management at Brock University, where his focus is change and decision-making in sport organizations.