Good Governance

posted by WMC

Man on Staircase

On January 25th Accreditation Canada brought forward Governance standards to assess health care organizations effective January 2017. Upon reflection, the guidelines seem to provide a solid framework that all Boards can learn from – both public and private.

Accreditation Canada looks at Board standards using four functions of Board accountability:

  1. Its own effectiveness as a governing body.
  2. Its need to ensure clear direction setting for the organization.
  3. Its support in helping the organization achieve its mandate.
  4. Its accountability to ensure the achievement of sustainable results.

These four standards appear to provide the Board with the right mix of hindsight, foresight, oversight and insight.


In assessing its own effectiveness, guidelines are provided to assess the Board’s structure to meet its legal and fiduciary obligations – including the appropriateness of its membership (and its selection process) along with the frameworks used for decision making.


In ensuring clear direction setting, guidelines assess how the Board collaborates with the leadership team in developing its vision, mission and values and then its strategic plan, goals and objectives to deliver the agreed upon results. Implied here is that by looking at the values of the organization, the Board’s concern is on both “what” is to be accomplished AND “how” (i.e. the means to the ends) the results are to be delivered.


In supporting the organization in achieving its mandate, the focus turns to the CEO, CFO and the Senior Leadership Team.

With the understanding that the Board’s most important role is the selection of the right CEO – guidelines assess the setting of performance expectations, the monitoring/measuring of results and then how the Board is developing the CEO and in turn evaluating the CEO’s assessment, development and retention of internal successor candidates.

With focus on the CFO and Senior Leadership Team – guidelines assess the review and approval of annual capital / operating budgets balancing requested resource allocations, policies and programs with the need to ensure quality, mitigate risk and drive employee engagement.


In ensuring sustainable results, guidelines focus on stakeholder relationships, the means for continuous improvement and then full circle on to the evaluation of the performance of the Board. It becomes clear that one cannot have insight without open communications, proper feedback mechanisms and the discipline to report what you have learned and to take measured actions.

In my opinion, Accreditation Canada has provided standards that all Boards can embrace to drive long term differentiated and sustainable results AND to better understand the critical role that they play.

Robert Turner is a Principal at WMC specializing in Board Governance, Organizational Development and Talent Management. He has been involved with a number of Boards in both the private and public sector to help them better define and deliver on their mandates.

Click here to see Robert’s article on LinkedIn.

The opinions represented here do not necessarily represent WMC’s views as a whole.