Federated Structures

Our states and their states of mind

I’ve often wondered whether we Australians are as parochial as we’re sometimes made out to be, whether our primary loyalty does indeed lie with our state, followed by our country. We’re said to be first and foremost South Aussies or Victorians, Tasmanians or New South Welshmen (and women!), Queenslanders or Western Australians – and let’s not forget our Territorian twins!

If an email I received the other day is any indication, there’s more than a grain of truth in that assertion.

You may recall a blog about two months back when I said the ability of a board to listen to stakeholders is perhaps the fundamental tenet of good governance – and it can be particularly tough, not to mention prickly, in federated member-based organisations where traditionally there’s a balancing act between listening to the regions and having functioning, national entities with effective boards characterised by impartiality and neutrality.
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The ten steps to Federation nirvana

As we’ve discussed in earlier blogs, the world of federated entities is complex in a governance sense, with regional baggage and partiality just two elements adding to an already tricky landscape.

So I thought it timely and beneficial to devote some time to sharing what I believe are the 10 steps to success for federated entities in the not-for-profit sector.

Firstly, there needs to be a common strategic direction, a plan for the entire country, with each entity’s strategic and annual plans aligning with the national direction and fitting in with the Australia-wide umbrella.
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Listen up…here’s the primary tenet of good governance

For most of us blessed with hearing, it’s probably true to say not too many of us are great listeners. Yes, we all hear, but do we really listen?

I pose the question because in the world of good governance, perhaps the fundamental tenet, the beacon that stands head and shoulders above all others in this multi-faceted discipline is the board’s ability to listen – really listen – to its major stakeholders.

The primary stakeholder is, of course, the owner or owners and shareholders of the entity or, in the not-for-profit world, the members.
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