Girlguiding: from operational to strategic
Case studies

Girlguiding: from operational to strategic

12 Jan 2015

Gill Slocombe, chair of Girlguiding, describes how this very large
membership body adapted its governance to deliver better and faster
strategic decision-making.

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Girlguiding: from operational to strategic

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Dealing with a prominent patron who is a loose cannon

Paul Gibson offers some guidance to a board of trustees who is desperately trying to maintain control of their organisation

Chairman's corner: Recognising when it's time to move on

A troubled chief executive struggling with whether to stay or go asks The Chairman for some sound advice...

A blinkered dragon

The chair of a rural environmental charity dies suddenly. None of his four fellow trustees feel able to take his place. His wife begs the trustees to accept her wealthy friend Lady Guzzler. But she proves to be a dragon not a shepherd. All but one make excuses and resign. Lady Guzzler masterminds their replacement with three City professionals.

Why are you telling me this?

Steve Powell, chief executive of SignHealth, explains how he improved trust between himself and his board.

Good advice, but there is an important point to add: merger is rarely a proper answer to impending insolvency.

» Trustees ignoring looming insolvency

Complacent management and over-trusting trustees

This is a well established charitable company. Trustees are the only company members. The charity has had a very good reputation in its field. The last inspection report gave it a two rather than a three-star (excellent) rating which it normally gets.

When the board and chief executive's ideas for the future of the charity differ

This is a highly respected international charity and is a company limited by guarantee. Trustees are the only company members. The board is highly skilled and provides strong governance.

Misplaced trust in chair and executive

This year, the charity expects a turnover of just over £22m, double that of the previous year. The charity has had four years of significant growth with funding pouring in and the number of public service contracts soaring.

Beware the powerful expert

Readers of governance will be familiar with the concept of ‘founder syndrome’. That is to say, where either an individual or corporate body that has been responsible for promoting or setting up a new charity seeks to thwart (whether wittingly or otherwise) the orderly running of its activities and strategic direction by the properly appointed body of trustees... More often than not founder syndrome can be sorted out by a board of trustees taking a grip of the problem and acting collectively. A few years ago however I encountered a more virulent strain of the condition. Indeed, looking back on it, I fear I may have witnessed a dangerous mutation which crossed a nascent Napoleon complex with the founder syndrome to produce what I will name ‘the founder’s expert acolyte’.

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