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HQN is running a series of events which are putting governance under the spotlight. I attended the first in the series in London on Wednesday 27 February. The event was largely attended by officers rather than board members, although some delegates wore two hats – being officers of a particular housing association and board members of another/others (like me).
Peter Walters ran the half day session. He has a wealth of experience in the management of housing associations both as a chief officer and as a board member too. Most recently, he fashioned the merger that created VIVID Homes in Hampshire. His style encouraged discussion and participation from the delegates who were keen to share their experiences of the governance issues facing their own organisations.
There is a lot that is packed into a three hour session. I came away with some pithy headlines that helps to encapsulate what governance means for housing associations today. Remember – as I will – the ‘five Ss’. These are:
- Strategy – for the short and long term
- Scrutiny – formal oversight of the decisions made by the executive team
- Stewardship – being aware of the board’s role as a custodian of the assets and values of an association
- Support – constructive challenge of the executive as well
- Stretch – being ambitious but also managing risk.
There are also the four ‘sights’ – Oversight; Insight; Foresight; and Hindsight.
Board members should bring these matters to mind as they work with their executive teams to ensure their organisations achieve their aims and objectives.
We heard what a good board looks like – and a poor board too. We looked at structures, the recruitment and retention of board members, appraisal systems, induction methods, the residents’ voice, the effectiveness of board meetings, engaging board members between meetings, and the role of the Regulator (including preparation for IDAs).
This is not rocket science. But getting it right is not easy. Peter’s inclusive style and wide ranging knowledge will help executives and board members alike get to grip with the governance of their organisations in these challenging times.
By Roger Jarman, HQN Associate
Places remain on each of our 'All on board: delivering good governance in 2019' events taking place across the UK. Links to all the upcoming dates can be found below: