Change governance, do the leaders of organisations get it?
Investigations and audits of major programmes, both in the public and private sectors, all too frequently reveal that governance arrangements are inadequate. The latest example was highlighted in the September 2013 National Audit Office report of the early stages of the Governments flagship Universal Credit programme.
The governance of change is one, important, element of corporate governance. It focuses on the value stream from setting strategy at one end, to the realisation of the benefits which should be at the heart of the business case of every change programme. This value stream focusing on an organisations major programmes and key changes, is the area of interest of the APMs Governance Specific Interest Group(SIG) and our priority is to influence senior leaders (CxO and equivalent) of organisations to adopt good governance practice.
In the private sector, guidance on corporate governance is provided by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in the form of The UK Corporate Governance Code. The code, first produced in 1992 and last updated in 2012, is principle based, covering five topics of leadership, effectiveness, accountability, remuneration and relations with shareholders, and it operates on a comply or explain basis. Corporate governance is about what the board of a company does and how it sets the values of the company.
The Financial Reporting Council recently held an open day at which the Governance SIG was represented. We posed some questions but more importantly made contact with the FRCs executive directorship providing the opportunity for closer future working on areas of common interest. We were pleased to hear, in response to one of our questions, a FRC director state We absolutely agree that the management of change is a board level issue.
So returning to the gently provocative change governance question do the leaders of organisations get it? Some undoubtedly do get it. Where the organisations board or equivalent has a mature approach to projects and change, with governance requirements that are clear, fit for purpose and communicated, competent professional leadership is in place with defined accountabilities, the leadership values and culture support open and honest, warts and all, reporting and setting strategy is properly joined up with its execution facilitating the right changes being done, successful outcomes on a repeatable basis are highly likely.
Regrettably, however, too many boards dont understand what is required and thus there is much room for improvement and still work to be done to influence the improvements required.
Whether as shareholders, contributors to a pension fund or taxpayers were all adversely impacted by organisations and their accountable leaders that fail to deliver value from the investments in change they make.