Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
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Networks of Centres of Excellence Annual Meeting

Keynote on Governance Best Practices

Tima Bansal’s keynote address described the gold standard in governance best practices, providing practical insights on key governance issues such as managing conflicts of interest, engaging stakeholders, and governance practices that can affect performance.

Key points

  • Networks and centres must manage complex interactions between all their stakeholders, in an environment of shared decision making.
  • Their mandate to demonstrate social and economic value from federal investments may at times conflict with the priorities of some of their partners.
  • Contributions from those partners may come with a demand for a certain amount of control – this a reality that the organization must recognize and decide how to deal with.
  • Good governance can overcome the challenges of dealing with conflicts of interest, managing complexity and engaging key stakeholders.
  • Not-for-profit networked organizations have specific strengths relative to hierarchical organizations, including a capacity for innovation and creativity that stems from their ability to bring together talent from diverse sources to tackle a shared problem. They also have a strong ability to mobilize knowledge and create change.
  • Recommended governance practices:
    • Provide a clear mission and value proposition – tell people what you do and what you don’t do.
    • Keep a stable core – do what you are good at. If you take risks, do so at the periphery so you don’t compromise your core business.
    • Modularize to allow for scaling – structure your organization in a way that makes it easy to add new areas of focus or remove old ones.
    • Embrace diversity, but take the time to build social capital so partners from different backgrounds and experiences can work together.
    • Manage professionally – recognize that specific professional skills are needed to properly manage a network or centre’s day-to-day business.