Upfront

APA's Good Governance Project (GGP) marked a milestone in February when the association's Council of Representatives received the team's report of its assessment and approved moving forward with the next phase of the project: developing specific proposals to address the needs identified.

GGP, which grew out of APA's Strategic Plan, seeks to maximize organizational effectiveness by assuring that APA's governance practices, processes and structures are optimized and aligned with what is needed to thrive in a rapidly changing and increasingly complex environment. The GGP team, chaired by Sandy Shullman, PhD, was given the task of soliciting input from stakeholders to fully understand the current status of APA governance. The assessment identified seven major areas for change:

Strengthening APA's strategic focus: Align efforts and initiatives of APA governance with the strategic plan.

Enhancing communications: Improve effective communication to and from members and among APA's organizational elements.

Assessing structure and representation: Determine appropriate structure(s) and relationships of governance, including how member segments are represented and where/how representation is needed.

Reviewing governance processes and functions: Review how the council and other governance bodies operate, the kinds of issues they focus on, and the processes they use both to carry out the business of governance and to communicate efficiently between and among elements of governance.

Clarifying roles and accountability: Identify the appropriate roles, responsibilities and relationships of key governance components (the council, board of directors, boards and committees), and explore how accountability for fulfilling those roles might be assessed and defined to maximize effectiveness.

Determine who is engaged in governance and how: Suggest ways for members to join governance and clarify the distinctions among voice, vote and engagement. This includes maximizing engagement of all communities to ensure aligning the strategic plan with the future of psychology.

Understanding APA culture: Identify potential changes to APA's governance culture needed to achieve an optimal governance system.

The GGP team recommended to council that the seven areas not be tackled all at once, but that the first step should be changes that are process-focused rather than structural: strategic alignment; role clarification and accountability; governance process and function. Based on the council feedback, the team is exploring solutions to these issues, such as better use of technology, streamlining the council's agenda, triaging issues to focus on more important ones, increasing the speed of decision-making, defining roles of governance elements and aligning the council's work with APA's strategic plan.

If you would like to comment on the work of the GGP, contact Nancy Gordon Moore, PhD, MBA, executive director of governance affairs. For more information, including a copy of the GGP report and the technology backgrounder, go to the GGP section of APA's website.

—L. Kaplinski