The Zen of Excellent Boards

Many reading this have likely served on some sort of board of governance: a library board, or one for parks and recreation, perhaps a planning commission or city council. They are all around us. If you have served on one, you likely know that boards can be tricky things. Board members sometimes clash, some boards try to micromanage day-to-day operations, and boards can lose focus on the bigger, more appropriate and important issues. For six terms I served as the mayor of Reedsport; I’ve been a port commissioner for 27 years; and I’ve served on any number of local, regional and state advisory boards. I think I know a bit about well-functioning boards. And I know that Central Lincoln has an exceptional board of directors.

Central Lincoln’s board follows the Carver Governance Model. In the Carver model, our responsibility is to remain focused on establishing the policies of the organization but not implementing those policies on a day-to-day basis. That responsibility falls to our general manager and his management team. At least one commentator has pointed out that under the Carver Model, the board established the ‘ends’ and the general manager or CEO the ‘means’ of getting there. Were we a military organization, the board would be establishing strategy while the management team would map the tactics to carry out the board’s goals and vision.

Of course, board members also adopt our yearly budget, respond to concerned ratepayers, and chew on some pretty weighty subjects. Lately we’ve had tough discussions about workforce retention and recruitment and on-going issues with the supply chain that severely impact our capacity to purchase and have delivered such critical items as transformers and boom trucks in a timely fashion. Two recently purchased boom trucks will take at least 18 months to be delivered, and included a possible 15 percent increase in price. It’s a tough purchasing world out there.

Despite the tough issues we routinely discuss, I am always impressed with the manner in which we do it: Candid, respecting the opinion of others, willing to dive into the most difficult issues, always remembering our role as board members is not one of day-to-day micromanagement, trusting in our excellent management team.

Be assured this board knows its role, remembers its ratepayers and is always focused on providing the most reliable electricity delivery at a reasonable cost.

If you are interested in learning more about the Carver Governance Model, a quick Google search will take you to an abundance of great material.

-Keith Tymchuk
Subdivision 5: Gardiner, Hauser, Lakeside, North Bend, Reedsport