Virtual Governance Series: Part 1

Virtual Governance Series: Part 1

By Mark Engle, DM FASAE CAE and Dave Bergeson, PhD CAE

Virtual Governance: what does it look like and what does it do?

As many associations and organizations make the decision to transition to a virtual work environment, now more than ever has it become critical for Boards to navigate urgent decision making.

The Urgent Decision Matrix

In our research on how high performing association boards make consequential decisions, one of the key variables studied was the timeliness of a decision.

We identified that governance decisions can be classified in four primary domains separated by urgency and importance. The below 2 x 2 grid is a common tool used to segment urgent and important issues. In this case, it indicates the “high urgency” and “high importance” quadrant as the crisis domain (very appropriate for today’s business environment). We prefer a new title of Urgent instead of Crisis for this domain, for the sake of mitigating alarm, especially in these times.

governance image march27 finalupdtv2

The research around decision making in this quadrant aligned with small decision teams being empowered to make quick and effective decisions for organizations. Interestingly, recent research shows that decision teams of more than 7 people actually reduce the quality of the decision by 10% for every additional person over seven. Though we are not advocating Board’s reduces their size to 7 members in consideration of good governance, we are encouraging that, in an urgent decision-making context, smaller-sized decision teams will likely improve the overall effectiveness of decisions.

governance chart resized

So, what are the key variables to examine when determining if a decision should fall into this urgent quadrant?

Check out the below decision matrix to use as a guide in evaluating your decision-making capacity and authority for time-sensitive decisions

Our primary hope is to preserve strategy discussions for the Board level where you have the time and care to make long-term, wise, consequential decisions to advance your mission. We hope this tool proves useful to aid in your urgent decision making. 

We would like to hear from you about how your board is making decisions in this current business climate. Feel free to send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We’ll share ideas in an upcoming post to keep the conversation going.

Mark Engle is an AMC principal and governance consultant, and Dave Bergeson is a vice president of client relations and executive director of the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses (APHON).Mark can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Dave can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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