“Governance” is a word more likely to produce a (politely stifled) yawn than any excitement or interest. It does not sound like fun and many founders of organisations and those who go on to lead them treat it as an irritation and a hindrance, something that is a boring waste of time and money when there are (surely) more interesting and impactful things to do with funds and energy.
In fact, good governance (which entails putting in place systems, limits and controls and a rigorous, ongoing adherence to them) is a crucial component of building an organisation which makes an impact, attracts support, draws in good board members and staff, and survives in the long term. Passion and drive are important for success but governance is the ‘yin’ to passion’s ‘yang’ – it is the foundation-stone and the central support. I may be getting a bit poetic here, but really believe that good governance is like the soft rain which falls all night, nourishing and feeding.
It is hard enough to build a sustainable organisation which achieves its objects over the long term and survives in a world of ever-changing demands and pressures with good governance mechanisms in place – try to do it without a firm support structure, and you will find the work, the dreams and the people start to fray, to come apart at the seams, and rupture under strain.
This view of the fundamental importance of governance is one we have arrived at after long years of experience with organisations. Over our next few letters, we will examine some of the important components of governance, and open spaces for conversation and learning. If you have any stories to share, and suggestions to make about topics and issues to discuss under the heading of ‘governance’ be sure to let us know on firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website, and send us your suggestion in the ‘contact form’ on www.ngolawsa.co.za.