A model of maturity for the board is a method used to determine how well your board of directors manages itself. Its goal is to assist the board members improve their performance and make the business more successful. The process usually involves a self-administered questionnaire, followed by a meeting with consultants who interpret the results. The majority of models employ three or five levels to evaluate the various aspects of your board’s performance. The first level is defined by impromptu processes without formal standards or alignment, while the third and fourth levels have more well-defined and defined processes.
The most important thing to consider in any maturity model is the way it prioritizes your board’s learning. Knowing the current level of maturity of your board will help you decide which skills you’ll need acquire next. Certain models offer generalized estimates on how long it will take to go up one level (e.g. “a level change can take around six months and an increase of 25% in productivity”).
The majority of boards start at the low end of the maturity scale. They are the least compliant ones that understand their obligations and risks. They are reluctant to dedicate more time and resources than is needed to governance, as it takes them away from their primary tasks of managing.
These are the ones who need to be forced to accept that ‘governing’ is a distinct job from executive management. It requires professional development and evaluation and funding to match. It’s a risky undertaking that requires a lot of imagination, understanding and willingness to take calculated risks in a complex and interconnected world of economics and politics.