Regenerative governance frameworks augment classic board tools by responding to the risk, instability and pace of our times; in terms of both meeting directors’ fiduciary obligations and the care-taking that their wider situations require. This approach is transitional. It assumes into governance the primary stewardship of living systems, and offers organizations a path from their Business-as-Usual activities towards transformation and a more thriveable future:
1. Facilitating big-picture awareness with a regenerative approach
We help directors and staff teams see the probabilities and the possibilities ahead to 2035. We point them to essential learning and surface what they may already sense. We introduce regenerative governance and why learning the big picture and nurturing the conditions and relationships for foresight, capability, resilience, and impact is so essential now. To illuminate the next step on the journey we do introductory How to Get Started sessions to usher boards and staff forward.
Regenerative governance involves a greater awareness of impacts, wider collaboration, and helping to align the conditions, relationships, culture, and incentives for people, sectors, society, habitats, and the natural world to thrive.
For some themes of the regenerative governance approach, and implications for organizations adopting them, see Propositions & Patterns.
2. Sharing what is informing and inspiring us
TAG’s Learning Stack curates resources on topics we think are relevant. While we seed introductory sessions with these perspectives regarding why and how governance needs to evolve, the Learning Stack is open to anyone with a curious mind.
The Accountability Group utilizes its time-tested ability to make sure that the sharing, exchange, and dialogue is tailored, relevant, and practical.
Supporting Governance since 2008
However we feel about the changes coming in the next decade, they will be decisive, impactful and, in many cases, irreversible.
They have probable trajectories at this point. As a matter of diligence, and to respond with good governance, leadership in every setting must cultivate their bigger-picture awareness.
It is our view that, in the next decade, organizations will experience one or more of the following scenarios:
- Be compelled into playing a bigger positive role, collaborating with other organizations;
- Splinter and fracture into units that are more fit for purpose;
- Merge with other organizations or include others’ missions within their own more broader purpose, or;
- Languish and be hospiced by their boards out of existence.
In order to lead their organizations towards making a greater positive difference, directors are beginning to integrate regenerative approaches into their governance.
We are the bridge-builders. Never before has a generation faced a future that is so different from our parents’. We are carrying on in a world that no longer exists. Great changes are ahead. We must make haste slowly, as the saying goes, acting with foresight, judgement, and applied wisdom.
All of us, and especially leaders of organizations, will be challenged to take more into account, treat with care things that need to be treated with care, move out of our comfort zones to connect in reciprocity and hold a larger possibility. A reality rooted in choice, common sense, resilience, and regeneration is for our grandchildren, not us now.”
Lyn McDonell, TAG
TAG supports directors and staff who want to be more purposeful and effective in these transitional times.
We engage boards that are ready to look across time and explore if, and how, their organization can better meet the challenges of the multiple crises we face.
With directors and senior management, TAG leads conversations about how governance will evolve over the next decade. Novel arrangements and new capabilities are possible. This shift to regenerative thinking involves:
We must not pull back from our collective moment. We are adequate to this. Let all of its difficulty ennoble us.”
Indra Adnan, author of The Politics of Waking Up
- Realizing that the organization is a living system within its ecosystem, and understanding what good governance entails when we take this perspective. A tailored-to-fit organizational version of “cosmo- localism” can help us navigate the challenges ahead. This entails learning from everywhere, including global counterparts and adjacent partners in our communities.
- Taking an abundance, not scarcity, perspective and marshalling our considerable resources to the task ahead. This means learning what people, organizations, communities, and regions need to do next and being part of that design and adjusting our impacts while anticipating new arrangements.
- Deconstructing and reconstructing, developing policies and contributions to promote thrive-ability and the common good. Positioning the next generation at the forefront, and preparing for change.
In this fertile period, directors and staff teams can seize the opportunity to reflect on what yield of positive contribution is possible.
The Accountability Group:
Creating space for what boards
could be talking about.
GOVERNANCE for LIFE
Introduction to RG:
Leadership in the Context of Living Systems
TAG offers these sessions in an à la carte fashion — you decide which course(s) are applicable and the order in which you would like them presented.
In this new session, directors and management learn about how organizations can be understood as having the qualities of a living system dependent upon other living systems.
We explore how boards can help adapt their organization to its complex environment and contribute to wider well- being in its relevant ecology.
With an outside-in view of the challenges ahead, we encourage boards to identify dimensions of the future that have some probability of being experienced
tangibly. These scenarios may be positive and/or negative in a longer time frame.
Directors and management are encouraged to initially work on “getting the big picture” orientation and not jumping to action too quickly. With exposure to what is ahead, there is an educational process that may involve stakeholders.
Since the internal organization has the characteristics of a living system, we explore how the board can nurture a healthy organization, the culture of genius, and the evolution of the potential of the organization.
As leaders understand more, they counsel themselves and management to come into integrity with what is required and responsibly steward the possible paths within these challenges.
TAG shows how the regenerative intent can be practically integrated into agendas, discussions, and oversight tools and how it undergirds the board’s role encouraging a developmental culture in partnership with the CEO/ED and senior team.
Some Common Questions Answered
TAG provides basic Governance Orientations and “Good to Great” Development Sessions
In preparation, we learn about your organization’s governance policies and structures, board style and dynamics, and what the goals and needs are for the session.
Then each session is tailored in liaison with your organization, including the pre-read material which then becomes a continuing resource for your directors.
In an interactive format, we will help your board understand the fundamentals of their role in the organization, whether it be for- or not-for-profit.
We refer specifically to your existing policies and practices, and outline ways to ensure a healthy relationship between your board, management, and staff.
We detail how individual directors can be most effective.
While we touch upon regenerative governance, Board Fundamentals is intended for boards who want to ensure that they are fulfilling their basic responsibilities.
“Why is traditional board governance not sufficient?”
In this era, everything is connected to everything else and we are all interdependent.
The traditional fiduciary lens of organizations is too narrow a field-view and is typically inadequate at framing the coming reality on the longer time scale.
The way we are going now is not going to get us out of this predicament. All roads point to collaboration, but for what? That is the discovery of this process.
“How will our roles change?”
The usual functions of the board (financial and risk oversight, monitoring of organizational performance, oversight of the CEO, etc.) do not change under regenerative governance. That work is foundational to every board.
Rather, directors with a regenerative governance orientation place those functions in a more relational context. Thus, the organization is recognized as a living system within a living system — both of which will experience stress and opportunity in the years ahead.
The regenerative perspective entails learning and a fuller appreciation of system changes long-term. The dialogue in regenerative governance is richer and decisions are better linked to real-world issues relevant to the organization.
Board Special Session:
How to Ask Questions as a Director
Directors are typically oriented to their duties as individuals and their collective responsibilities as a board. Far less attention is given to coaching board members on how to ask questions from the governance perspective. Yet board members are told that “asking questions” is one of their most important responsibilities.
In this session, TAG concentrates on the essential skills of asking questions and managing the accompanying dialogue.
We set out a working framework for understanding the fundamental concerns for directors in their oversight role, what good governance-level questions are, and how to phrase them effectively.
We cover the substantive dimensions of questions — tone and word choice — and the necessity of a constructive attitude towards working side-by-side with management on issues.
How to Ask Questions as a Director includes interaction and practice sessions.
“Our staff are already so busy — this sounds like more work. Is it? What’s in it for them?”
Let’s consider this argument from two perspectives — internally and externally.
Internally, there is recognition that people are the source of energy. Providing them developmental opportunities to cultivate their “genius” — what gives them energy in turn — is wise at this time.
Externally, staff in many cases are already swimming in this relational world and are very much aware of the wider field of partners, stakeholders, and others affected by organizational work. They often have more diverse relationships than directors can possibly cultivate. Their work in this area is encouraged, developed, and recognized by boards taking a regenerative governance perspective.
A message to staff from Lyn McDonell
The Accountability Group
SESSION 4 — Coming in 2024
How to Get Started
Implementation is the “what’s next” discussion regarding how your organization can integrate a regenerative perspective into its work and culture. While the decision of what to implement is always the board’s to make, TAG provides frameworks and facilitation to support the “how.”
Implementation of a regenerative approach may involve:
- Developing and adopting a living code philosophy — not expectations to be perfect, but expressing an intent, identifying values to nurture, what healthy diversity means, and then promoting a healthy organizational culture.
- Identifying a rolling sense of who the organization is and what it is in relationship with (i.e., the ‘3 Sisters’ planting concept of learning from and honouring others’ work and collaboration over time). This includes deciding what concepts the board wishes to reflect on and grow deeper in understanding in order to support its own evolution and development.
- Exploring “real issues literacy,” including what view the board chooses to see in its window frame. This skill includes welcoming “warm data” information and ways to comprehend both positive and negative risk potential in aspects of the population, field, and region that the organization serves.
- Reviewing policies to update them with living systems concepts and indicators.
- Committing to fostering the genius of young people and next-generation developments, including their organizational forms. We encourage high-potential young leaders in organizations to discover preliminary insights and tools.
The unfolding of a regenerative governance perspective in the organization requires staying faithful to what matters in the long term and communicating well with stakeholders.
GOVERNANCE for LIFE