Learning patterns/Governance Codex

Governance Codex
problemHow to avoid typical rookie mistakes when hiring your first staff.
solutionSet up a governance codex which describes principles of a responsible organizational culture and with a clear definition of responsibilities in regard of supervising, leading and executing.
created on25 March, 2014
status:in progress

What problem does this solve?


As the experience of many chapters and organizations show, the process of "professionalizing", i.e. hiring staff, can cause various challenges. This comprises for example the division of tasks and responsibilities between staff and volunteers or conflicts of interest. How can these challenges be adressed before they cause major conflicts?

What is the solution?


A good governance codex describes principles of a responsible organizational culture. It is especially set up for situations where the bylaws of an association leave some leeway for the organization in the day-to-day business. The goal of such a codex is to ensure responsible leadership, control and communications without limiting the decision-making ability and efficiency of the leading organs. By involving all relevant stakeholders the implementation of a governance codex, it can create a common understanding and acceptance of how an effective and viable organization should be designed. Additionally, an independent entity (e.g. a good governance committee) can be established in order to serve as a reporting body for possible infringements against this governance codex and as a neutral authority for conflicts of interest.

General considerations

  • A governance codex should comprise a clear definition of responsibilities in regard of supervising, leading and executing. The goal is to get to a balanced relation of regulation, leading and controlling between the members, the Board and the Executive Director.
  • A governance codex should increase transparency concerning the structure and actions of an organization.
  • Involve all stakeholders (broader community, board, staff).
  • The execution of a governance code as a continuing process. The principles of the organizational culture should be regularly compared to the actual practices in the day to day business and should be developed accordingly.

When to use

  • For WMAT implementing a good governance codex in an early stage of the professionalization process proved to be a key factor of success in the first year after hiring staff[1].



See also