Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

This questionnaire helps you to discover new ways to investigate and learn about governance. It is designed to stimulate awareness of how governance operates within your organisation, and how governance affects you in your organisational role.
As educators, the authors’ are committed to developing 'reflexive' practitioners (managers, employees, professionals, trustees and directors) able to reflect on their own experience to develop applied knowledge. This questionnaire, therefore, is a learning tool rather than a test. It contributes to learning:   By promoting self-awareness of the responsibilities accepted by a Trustee Board or Board of Directors By promoting self-awareness regarding the way authority and control affects your organisational role.

There are no right or wrong answers. The diagnostic nature of the tool does not test for levels of compliance with legislation, codes of conduct, or evaluate the performance of you individually or your board. Instead, it provides a picture of your awareness levels and perception of problem-solving in your organisational role, so that you can reflect on the effectiveness of both your (and your organisation's) approach to governance. The questionnaire has 24 questions about situations you may face in the workplace. These are grouped into six sections as follows:       Legal Responsibilities Stakeholder Involvement Funding and Investment Employees, Members and Volunteers Executives and Management Board Development and Maintenance

To complete the diagnostic questionnaire, read each of the questions and choose the answer that most closely matches your experience (or aspiration if you do not have direct experience). Where you have direct experience, answer on the basis of practice (rather than policy) - choose what actually happens rather than what is supposed to happen. Where you do not have experience, choose on the basis of what you would like to happen. The questionnaire should take you between 30 - 60 minutes to complete.

Please tick only one response to each question.

Designed by Dr Rory Ridley-Duff. Input from Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule.
© 2009. Restricted Rights. This version may be used “as is” for educational purposes. Commercial use is not permitted. To licence a web-based version of this questionnaire, or to licence customised versions for corporate or commercial use, please contact, Sheffield Hallam University or, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Section 1 - Legal Issues
On our own or all together? 1. How has your organisation gone about developing its policy on equality of opportunity?
a. We are individually committed to equal opportunity but don't have a formal written policy. b. Our policy was negotiated by members / employees and managers together, then discussed and approved by the board. c. I don't know if we have an equal opportunity policy / we've not discussed this policy at board level. d. We left development of our equal opportunity policy to our Chief Executive / Human Resources Manager. e. We discussed the basic parameters at board level and then delegated the task to a manager.

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2. How does your board go about assessing threats and opportunities from new legislation or regulations?
a. We ask our Chief Executive / General Manager or get professional advice when we need to know something. b. We discuss risks and opportunities arising from new legalisation and involve our managers and other staff in these discussions. c. Our board has been assembled / appointed for their legal awareness. We rely on them to identify threats and opportunities. d. I'm unsure if we've ever properly discussed the threats and opportunities that arise from new legislation. e. We have informal discussions inside/outside board meetings and occasionally involve experts to raise our awareness.

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3. Which of the following most closely resembles the way your organisation resolved a recent difference of opinion about how to respond to legislation?
a. We didn't debate it much. We took guidance from our Chief Executive / Chair / External Consultant. b. Disputes are rare, but when this one occurred, there was a lot of politics involved to reach a compromise. c. We got someone to carefully research the underlying issues, get input from our stakeholders, then facilitated a board level debate. d. I can't ever remember us having a major difference of opinion or dispute about the way we meet our legal obligations. e. We had robust debate at board meetings until we agreed a policy. We don’t wash our dirty linen in front of staff.

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4. Which of the following most closely resembles the way you involve the workforce in meeting new legal requirements?
a. Staff representatives are informally and formally involved in developing plans from the outset. b. We consult staff once proposals are formally agreed by the board and address concerns in the light of organisational needs. c. Our CEO doesn't discuss plans with staff until s/he has got in principle agreement from the board / senior management. d. Our planning process is informal and organic. We go with good ideas regardless of their source. e. I can't remember ever seeing a strategic plan in this place. We usually go along with the founder's / chair's wishes.
© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.

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Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Section 2 - Stakeholders
Pursuing the common good or meeting the needs of stakeholders? 5. Which of the following most closely matches the way your executive(s) view the development of a mission and social values?
a. This mission stuff is a fad: all stakeholders' values have to be respected in an effective organisation. b. It is vital that the board sets a clear mission and values. This has to be communicated by managers to all staff. c. The mission / values of an organisation are set by the founder / leader. The board, staff and volunteers learn to apply these in their decision-making. d. It is a bit vague here - that's no bad thing. I've not participated in discussion about mission or values. e. It doesn't help to fix mission and values: we debate how to change and evolve our organisation.     

6. Which statement most closely reflects attitudes to stakeholder involvement in strategic decision-making?
a. Service user / staff representation would undermine the professionalism we want to develop in our policy making. b. I'm not sure how organised our service users / staff are or how we might integrate them into decision-making. c. Our Chief Executive leads on this: it is not something we (would) discuss at board level. d. We formally include service users and other parties: it is a way to improve governance and promote healthy debate. e. Managers / board members meet informally with service users/members and we find this helpful. Formal arrangements won't help.     

7. When there are disagreements between two stakeholder groups, which of the following most closely matches the way you go about resolving the dispute?
a. Disputes happen and are often complex once investigated. We have a process, but the person with most power usually prevails. b. There is very little conflict in our organisation: I can't remember us ever needing to use a conflict resolution process. c. If two parties cannot agree, we bring in a third-party to mediate until the parties reach agreement. d. We have a clear mission and set of values. When there is conflict we ensure the organisation is put first and its values are upheld. e. Whoever is in disagreement, we get round a table to identify underlying issues / interests. Conflict can be used to improve decisions and create respect.     

8. Which of the following statements most closely matches your approach to communication during strategic planning?
a. The founder / CEO creates written plans of what we'll do and the board checks this over before giving approval. b. Planning is an iterative process that brings together different stakeholders into working parties on a continual basis to create policies. c. We're not big on formal planning but spend a lot of time investigating a range of project opportunities on an ongoing basis. d. Plans are developed by leader(s) with board guidance. Once agreed, we work with stakeholders to deploy resources effectively. e. Our planning process is informal. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen / approved a written plan.     

© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.


Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Section 3 - Funding and Investment
Driven by the controllers of capital, the power of ideas, or the actions of staff? 9. Which of the following statements most closely matches the control of budgets in your organisation?
a. We're driven by projects and project managers who liase with finance staff to monitor and report to the board. b. We work all the time with managers / staff on budgeting/accounting for projects that fit in with the board's plans. c. Our funders/investors determine what we do. We agreed budgets and report back to them how we are performing. d. Our CEO drives this. S/he is well connected and takes responsibility for accounting to funders. e. I think we're very reactive and do whatever we can as opportunities arise. It makes budgeting almost impossible.     

10. Which of the following most closely represents the board's attitude to involving funders / investors in business planning?
a. Funders are vital, but we don't want them on the board. We have a dialog but the board also keeps its own council. b. The individuals / organisations who fund our organisation dominate the board and policy. It's their responsibility. c. I'm not sure how we obtain our funding and income. It doesn't get discussed much at board level. d. Investor involvement, whether individuals or organisations, is important: we work with them on new projects and ideas. e. These matters are dealt with by our Chief Executive / Fundraiser. We get the CEO to set targets and monitor them.     

11. Which of the following statements most closely matches your approach to evaluating different investment and income generation schemes?
a. We have a formal process for evaluating investment proposals. Some we support. Some we don't. It's the board's job to decide. b. I'm not sure how we choose between different proposals: it all seems to be hit and miss, or decided on a whim. c. Whenever a member of staff / board member has a good idea, we find ways to support it even if it takes time. d. There are always double or triple bottom-line issues. We debate these widely then make decisions. e. There are one or two people who are influential here. Their judgement is critical and we usually follow their lead.     

12. How tightly is financial data controlled in your organisation?
a. I'm not sure what controls we have on financial data or whether I'm entitled to inspect the accounts. b. Members have a clear constitutional right to inspect financial records at any time. There is full transparency here. c. Financial data is carefully controlled: our financial director / CEO has full control. They give information out when there is an AGM. d. The board has powers to inspect financial records. We encourage them to ask for clarifications whenever needed. e. We're aware that irregularities could occur and have an elected audit committee comprising more than one stakeholder for internal audit.
© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.

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Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Section 4 - Employees, Members and Volunteers
Labour and capital as integral to the organisation, or just obtained whenever needed? 13. Which of the following is most true of your organisation's approach to board membership and involving members in joint decision-making?
a. Our employees can't sit on the board. We keep a strict separation between board / employees to avoid conflicts of interest. b. We have strong 'membership' values. We try to remove barriers that prevent stakeholder involvement in decision-making. c. We don't care if members/employees are board members or not: they all have a formal role in decision-making at different levels in the organisation. d. We expect our CEO to be knowledgeable and capable of using their judgement to decide who should be involved. e. We accepted our accountant's advice. We've never discussed how the constitution affects decisions.     

14. How does your board go about organisation restructuring?
a. Board members discuss various possibilities before deciding the strategy and informing the rest of the management group. b. We discuss it formally across the whole organisation, including with the workforce, before we negotiate an agreement on how to ensure the future of the organisation. c. This stuff is always difficult so the board leaves it to senior managers. We're focussed on strategic, not operational issues. d. We have formal / informal discussions, and let individuals express their opinions, before we make any decisions. e. We get an expert to advise us, then we follow their recommendations.     

15. Has your organisation incorporated natural justice principles (written allegations, a formal hearing, a chance to cross-question any party making an accusation) into its disciplinary and grievance procedures?
a. Yes, absolutely. We drew up a policy with staff / members. If there is an allegation, it must be in writing and go through due process. b. All this formal stuff makes my blood boil. We should be left to solve problems informally. c. We've reviewed our contract terms, including Employment Contracts, and told our staff about the changes we're making. d. I don't really know what 'natural justice' is or whether we've incorporated the principles into any of our contracts. e. We rely on professionals for this and review implementation with our CEO or HR Manager.     

16. Which of the following statements is closest to the way your organisation defines the purpose of its Annual General Meeting (AGM)?
a. I'm not sure I've ever attended an AGM or have any concept of what we should be doing there. Are they good fun? b. We have a fantastic informal evening each year. The board and a few members accept the accounts, confirm officers, then have a drink. c. It's a huge undertaking. We celebrate, have debates and involve not just members but staff, clients / customers / beneficiaries. d. We use the AGM as a way for our founder / Chair to communicate their vision for the next year. We keep formalities to a minimum. e. We invite all members, give them information and use social events to encourage participation.
© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.

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Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Section 5 - Executives and Management
Visionary leader(s) or an evolving collective? 17. Which statement best characterises the relationship between your board and executive manager(s)?
a. The CEO / Chair have crucial roles, but underlying this there are teams who work with each other on several levels. b. They are one and the same. We don't see a need for (don't have) a separate CEO and Chair. c. The relationship between our Chair and CEO is a close one: they tend to run the show and we contribute our expertise as needed. d. The CEO and Chair have formal responsibilities, but we're a collegial group and support each other all the time. e. At times we work together well, but at other times months pass without any information or contact. It's a bit hit and miss.     

18. Which of the following statements is closest to the way your board sees the links between management style and risk taking?
a. We consciously develop an entrepreneurial culture. We're activists and impatient with bureaucracy. b. We're quite careful, I think. We don’t jump prematurely to embrace the latest fad. Most of us are quite conservative (with a small 'c'). c. We value diversity here. It's deliberate to create a healthy tension between activism and management control. d. This place is dominated by a few strong characters. We give them plenty of scope then pull on the reigns if we see risks escalating. e. It is not a big issue here. So long as things get done, we're happy. That's the best way to reduce risk.     

19. When there is disagreement in management meetings, which of the following most closely resembles the outcome?
a. Managers come and go here but I don't remember them ever coming into conflict with the board. b. Conflict is both overt and covert. We force issues into the open so we can negotiate a solution. c. Occasionally board members have battles with managers. When that happens, we follow a process to help rebuild their relationship. d. Managers manage operations. Board members direct the managers. If managers don't understand that, they don't last long here. e. Conflicts are often puzzling and over really petty things. If that happens, we get a respected person to discuss things informally.     

20. Which of the following most closely matches the way your directors (or trustees) discuss work issues with your manager(s)?
a. Only our CEO meets the board on a regular basis. Reports are prepared and the CEO attends part of the meeting. b. There are regular meetings between board members and non-board members: both can bring proposals to the table depending on what is discussed. c. We don't have a separation here because we designed the organisation to have just one key decisionmaker. d. There is regular communication between board members and those with management responsibilities, but it is mostly informal rather than at meetings. e. We do whatever we have to as the circumstances arise. We don't have formal meetings.     

© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.


Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Section 6 - Board Development and Maintenance
Developing ourselves. 21. Which of the following statements most accurately reflects the constitutional provisions for the appointment of board members in your organisation?
a. Each stakeholder group has power to elect its own trustee(s) / director(s), and only members of that group can vote them in and out. b. I can't remember us appointing a trustee / director that was not a friend of the CEO or Chair. c. Formally, we have elections for trustees / directors every 3 years, but elections are never contested. d. We don't have elections. New directors are introduced through personal connections. Word of mouth reputation matters the most. e. I've never read our organisation's constitution. I don't know for sure what the provisions are for replacing directors / trustees.     

22. Which of the following statements most closely matches the selection criteria used to appoint directors / trustees?
a. You can't become a trustee / director here unless the Chair / CEO like you. You have to agree with their vision to be considered. b. Candidates are nominated for election and make an election statement. These are sent to members so they can choose between them. c. Our trustees / directors are appointed using the same equal opportunity recruitment process as for any other member of staff. d. I'm not sure what criteria we use to select trustees / directors. I've never seen documents that describe the process. e. Each member group elects / appoints a director / trustee using a system they feel is appropriate. We don't interfere.     

23. Which of the following statements most closely reflect the way that work is allocated at board level (in General Meetings)?
a. The Chair is influential. He / she suggests who does what. You are unlikely to get on a committee without their support. b. Anyone can nominate, but long-serving board members band together to decide who does what. c. We decide these things formally at board meetings. There's a round table discussion until we're all agreed who should do what. d. We devolve these decisions to the committees themselves. They suggest who they would like and we accommodate their wishes. e. It really depends who is in with who and what you are interested in. I don't think we have any clear cut approach to this.     

24. Which of the following statements most closely reflects the way your board members are appraised and developed?
a. So far as I'm aware, trustees / directors do not undergo any regular appraisal of their performance. b. Members and/or those working in the organisation assess the performance of their trustees / director(s) / managers on a regular basis. c. The Chair appraises the performance of each trustee / director. He / she then decides on any necessary training / development. d. It is up to member groups to monitor and communicate with their trustee / director. If they don't perform, they won't be re-elected/re-appointed. e. The board members keep tabs on each other's work. It's pretty informal, but we do appraise each other and give feedback.
© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.

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Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Preparing the Results - Awareness
Each question in the diagnostic tool has been screened by a group of people to assess the level of awareness implicit in each response, and also the orientation toward problem solving and relationship building. To score your (your organisation’s) awareness, write the score corresponding to your answer in the last column. Then add all your scores together to give yourself a total: Awareness
Question 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. a. 2 1 1 4 3 3 3 1 2 4 3 0 2 2 4 0 4 3 0 3 4 1 1 0 b. 4 4 2 3 4 0 0 3 4 1 0 3 3 4 1 2 1 2 3 4 1 3 3 4 c. 0 3 3 1 1 1 4 2 1 0 2 1 4 0 3 4 2 4 4 1 3 4 4 3 d. 1 0 0 2 0 4 1 4 3 3 4 2 1 3 0 1 3 1 1 2 2 0 2 1 Total e. 3 2 4 0 2 2 2 0 0 2 1 4 0 1 2 3 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 2 Your Score

If you did not answer all questions, multiply your score by 24, then divide by the number of questions you answered. For example, if you answered only 21 questions, multiply [Total] by 24 then divide by 21.

Add 4 to your total. Write The Result Here:


© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.

Governance Diagnostic Questionnaire

Preparing the Results - Orientation
To score your approach to problem solving and relationship building, circle the answer that you gave for each question (a - b - c - d - e) then count the number of times that you circled each preference. Write the five totals at the bottom of the grid. Orientation
Question No Preference or Answer Given Individualised Exclusive Collectivised Exclusive Individualised Inclusive Collectivised Inclusive

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. Totals

c. d. d. e. d. b. b. e. e. c. b a. e. c. d. a. e. e. a. e. e. d. e. a.

d. a. a. c. c. c. a. a. d. e. e. c. d. e. e. d. b. d. e. c. b. a. a. c.

e. c. e. b. b. a. d. d. c. b. a. d. a. a. c. b. c. b. d. a. c. c. b. e.

a. e. b. d. e. e. c. c. a. d. c. b. b. d. b. e. d. a. c. d. d. b. c. b.

b. b. c. a. a. d. e. b. b. a. d. e. c. b. a. c. a. c. b. b. a. e. d. d.

Count the number of times you circled an answer in each column and write the numbers in the [Totals] column at the bottom. To interpret your results, use the document Governance – Interpreting Questionnaire Results.
© Dr Rory Ridley-Duff, Mike Bull and Dr Tracey Coule, 2009. Reproduced with permission.


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