Why are so many governing boards transforming their committee structures? What is the impetus for change? The truth is that boards undertake restructuring for multiple reasons. At the root, however, is often a desire to improve governance in order to better address the institution’s or system’s strategic issues.
By looking inward, boards can assess whether they have the right infrastructure, tools, and key players.
Beyond these pragmatic reasons, many of the boards AGB studied had internal and external drivers of change that influenced the board’s decision to rethink its structure. Some of those drivers were individuals, while others were policies, legislation, or new strategic plans.
Not surprisingly, many of the individuals initiating the process to redesign the board’s committees were board chairs and presidents or chancellors. They initiated important conversations about modifying the governance structures of the board, often against the backdrop of a new strategic plan. These individual drivers of change ultimately shaped the process and end result of the board committee restructuring. In addition to internal influences, in some cases external influences from entities such as the legislature or governor motivated boards to rework their committees to reflect new state priorities.
Before a board embarks on a journey to reorganize its committees, it is vital to ask the questions, why are we doing this and why now? Understanding the drivers for change is as important as having the right process of change. If initiated for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time, or just simply for the sake of change, the restructuring effort may not prove to be beneficial.