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Why The Policy Governance Model Fails HOAs/Condos

Posted on March 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM

The Policy Governance Model (PGM) discourages community association member empowerment, minimizes the professional community association management industry and focuses on the empowerment of the board of directors - making the end of governing more important than the means of governing. In simple terms, creating potential dictatorships run by boards of directors with little or no opportunity for input from anyone else. Invitation to participate takes a backseat to delegation of policy. Why? Because given the inability of the industry to establish an effective program to increase owner interest and involvement in their community association, empowering the board of directors and reducing the role of the owners makes governing the community association easier, not better, just easier. Less cooks to spoil the soup, so to say. And when the PGM is put into place, dysfunction (community apathy, disinterest in community leadership roles and disinterest in the community association itself) is redefined as normal…and sometimes taken advantage of.


To quote the official site of The Policy Governance Model (carevergovernance.com):


“Policy Governance®, an integrated board leadership paradigm created by Dr. John Carver, is a groundbreaking model of governance designed to empower boards of directors to fulfill their obligation of accountability for the organizations they govern. As a generic system, it is applicable to the governing body of any enterprise. The model enables the board to focus on the larger issues, to delegate with clarity, to control management's job without meddling, to rigorously evaluate the accomplishment of the organization; to truly lead its organization. In contrast to the approaches typically used by boards, Policy Governance separates issues of organizational purpose (ENDS) from all other organizational issues (MEANS), placing primary importance on those Ends”.


The result of employing the PGM in community association leadership is seen clearly today in the headlines of newspapers all around the country. Stories of community association board abuses, scandals and improprieties are everywhere. Why? Focusing on empowering the board of directors aside, it is because the industry has embraced a flawed model of leadership that does not work in the community association arena, an arena that should be focused on the process (MEANS) of governing not the product (ENDS) of being governed. Transparency (the element of governing that reduces improprieties and abuses) is the result of process (MEANS) work, not product (END) work.


The PGM can work well with organizations that have members who are already engaged, value their membership in the organization and hold that organization in high regard. Community associations do not fall under that category. Community association owners must be empowered in order to become engaged, many distrust or have disinterested views (at best) of their community association and do not feel as if their membership is voluntary (which it is!). Regardless of the rhetoric, control (and the emphasis on implementation of policy) creates only a forced compliance with community guidelines, not engagement or a sense of owner empowerment. The PGM is a paradigm created by linear thinking (as opposed by conceptual thinking) and its implementation does little to recognize that engagement is the road to community unity and engagement is only possible through an emphasis on building a sense of owner self-direction (empowerment/autonomy). Once a community is engaged and owners empowered, the PGM stands a much better chance of successful implementation...but not beforehand...and that is one of its more fundamental flaws for community association leadership.


A conceptual model of leadership that empowers owners and allows them to participate in the process, create the solutions and implement them (MEANS) will eliminate most abuses, improprieties and create informed, educated, engaged and compliant communities. That is the kind of product (END) that is ethically appropriate, vibrant, strong and growth-oriented. The board of director’s primary role in this conceptual process-oriented model is to allow the owners the opportunity to help identify problems, help the board create solutions and then get out of the way and let the owners implement those solutions (which, because they have an investment in solving community issues due to the board’s move to empower them, they will be more inclined to do).


The time is right for the HOA industry to rethink the Policy Governance Model and embrace a new model of leadership that creates “community” in the truest sense of the word: A group of people with different backgrounds, values and experiences united in the pursuit of common goals and objectives.



Help Create Community in your HOA, order "Creating Community: The Art of Empowerment in Community Association Living" in hardcover, softcover or ebook at all online booksellers or at http://myhoa.webs.com/creatingcommunitybook.htm

Categories: Creating Community