Policy Governance Consistency Team

Team Terms of Reference

Policy Governance Consistency Team Terms of Reference


Team Membership


Richard Stringham, Chair

[email protected]

John Bohley

[email protected]

Linda Stier

[email protected]

Karen Fryday-Field

[email protected]


Team Activities

The Consistency Framework Team advises the CEO to assure that Govern for Impact members have access to consistent and accurate information about Policy Governance.  

This page is designed to inform you about our past, present and future work.  If you have an issue you would like the committee to address please write to [email protected]


The History of the Principles Consistency Framework

For some time there has been mystery surrounding what is consistent with the Policy Governance® Model and what is not. Individuals would draw on personal experiences in studies and what they had read. When that failed they would comb the texts. This process could easily result in two very different viewpoints about what was model consistent or not depending on their experience and on what source of text they used.

This came to a head when the Govern for Impact was challenged by Conference participants to know that what they were hearing was indeed consistent, when in fact some of what they thought they heard from one workshop to another sounded different.

To address this need for consistency assurance, and to ensure that Govern for Impact could indeed identify and illustrate what was or was not model consistent, an effort was taken to look at the 10 principles more deeply. What was there beyond, or below, the Principle itself?

This led to a more involved consideration of the values the principles represented and the more specific definitions of those Principles. These in turn led to logical conclusions of what one might expect to see if a person or body was following them. The final result was a set of possible lower level definitions of each principle as well as a set of observable behaviors  or characteristics concerning how the model is taught and how boards using the model would actually do their work, what we call the Govern for Impact Principles Consistency Framework.

These lower level definitions are one step below the principles themselves and one step above a specific application or single example. They create a framework of criteria or expectations, about how one can determine what is or is not consistent without having to refer to something written at a particular time about a specific issue or application.

How is Govern for Impact using this Framework?

The Govern for Impact uses the framework to think through questions or issues about whether or not a particular thing is or is not consistent with the principles (and thus the model). These might arise during a review of upcoming Conference presentations or in response to a question or circumstance which is brought to Govern for Impact's attention and is then forwarded by the CEO to her operational committee on consistency.

When the question of "is it or isn't it" appears, the Committee uses the Framework to reason through and identify how the issue compares with the criteria in the Framework.

Past Issues Addressed by the Committee


Govern for Impact received a request to provide an opinion regarding the following: 

If a delegate is non-compliant with a policy at a lower level, does that mean that the delegate is non-compliant with the upper level policy(ies) within the same policy chain? 


For full discussion please see Govern for Impact Consistency Framework Committee Report 1 here>> Govern for Impact Consistency Framework Committee Report


The Committee's answer is: yes, the delegate cannot be fully compliant with any of the policies within the chain that contain the subject lower level policy. However, such non-compliance does not equate to complete non-compliance at the superior levels.


The presenting question was "Can dogs (or other animals besides humans) be beneficiaries?."


The Committee identified the following underlying questions:

  • Do Ends need to be about human benefit or could they be about benefit to animals?
  • Can dog's have any direct status in the Ends, be it as beneficiaries or as owners?

Our first step was to identify the Principles likely to touch on these questions:

    • Ends which address the components including the beneficiaries
    • Ownership which addresses the nature of and expectations about Boards and those they represent.

In relation to the first underlying question, the respective Ends might be along the lines of either:

1.0 Dogs are healthy and safe from harm


1.0 People who care about dogs are happy that they are healthy and safe from harm.

(both with an "at what worth" component such as "This will be achieved at a level that justifies the resources invested.")

Using the Govern for Impact Consistency Framework (specifically focusing on Ends and Ownership), the Committee concluded that:

  • In the current further definitions of the Ends principle in the framework there is nothing that precludes dogs from being beneficiaries. The only expectation is that the intended beneficiaries are defined.
  • In the current further definitions of the Ownership principle in the framework there is an expectation that the Board can conduct ongoing two way communication with owners about primarily Ends but also potentially around unacceptable means. This type of communication would seem to suggest that dogs cannot be the owners whom the Board receives authority from and whose values and priorities it uses to guide the Board's decisions.
  • None of the remaining Principles seemed to speak to this issue.


The Committee concluded that dogs can be beneficiaries but not owners!


Govern for Impact received a request to provide an opinion regarding the following: 

What are the expectations concerning what is included in an operational definition and what are the criteria for finding an interpretation of Board Policy to be reasonable?


For full discussion please see Govern for Impact Consistency Framework Committee Report 2 here>> Govern for Impact Consistency Framework Report 2


Two Potential Lower Level Definitions of Principle 9 have been added to the Govern for Impact Consistency Framework to provide guidance on both of these questions.

Current Issues under Discussion

  1. Ownership Identification:
    Narrowly stated: Who makes up the moral ownership of a health regulatory body? 
    More broadly stated: How does a board identify its moral ownership?
  2. Any Reasonable Interpretation
    How is a reasonable interpretation defined?

Pipeline Issues

  1. New terminology?   "Reasonable Operational Definition" 
  2. Reporting non-compliance at lower levels - impact on reporting at higher levels

Other Projects

Conference Presentation reviews
Review of Source Document and Principles
Article reviews
Book reviews

Consistency Framework Development Mandate

The development of the Govern for Impact Consistency Framework is guided by the following mandate:

  • The purpose of the Govern for Impact Consistency Framework is to help its users to determine whether or not any practice is consistent with the principles of the Policy Governance system.
  • The Govern for Impact Consistency Framework does not dictate particular practices (applications of the principles) because the effectiveness of the Policy Governance system can be assured by any set of practices that comprehensively covers, and is consistent with, all the system's principles.
  • Only matters essential to understanding and assessing consistency with the principles of the Policy Governance system will be incorporated in the Govern for Impact Consistency Framework.  
  • The Policy Governance Principles on which the work of the Govern for Impact Consistency Framework is based are those indicated to be the most currently accurate by the Authoritative Source (currently John and Miriam Carver).

Issue Review Process

The Govern for Impact Consistency Framework Committee will generally use the following process to review issues or questions raised by Govern for Impact's CEO:

  1. Assign a single committee member as Issue Leader to take the matter through the steps 2 to 9 below.
    Determine the nature of the issue.
    • Identify which of the Principles and/or their further definitions, if any, would apply to the issue.
    • If none would, find it to be a practice issue rather than a principle issue.
  2. If determined to be a practice issue:
    • Read through the Principle(s) and related Possible Lower Level definitions as well as Potential Criteria to see if they indicate a possible response.
    • If they do, respond to the CEO and the person(s) who forwarded the question.
  3. If determined to be a principle issue and the current Framework does not provide appropriate information to address the issue:
    • Determine first if having more information would add significant value to understanding the Principles and their use.
    • If not, stop. If so, go to the two steps below.
    • Ask the Advisory Group to review the question and add any possible comments.
      • Stages (potential for both converging and diverging stages):
        • Expanding our Understanding: What do we know?  What don't we know?
        • Inclusive Solutions (i.e. solutions that address apparently conflicting/competing needs)
        • Synthesis(i.e. re-framing the issue to gain a different perspective)
      • Determine what is missing and define a possible addition to the Framework that would allow the question to be answered.
  4. If time allows, share the draft with the Advisory Group prior to submitting it to the Authoritative Source and refine the draft as the Committee sees fit.
    • Stage (Converging Stage)
      • Refinement (i.e. evaluate and refine the quality of thinking)
  1. If a possible revision or addition is developed, request that the Authoritative Source review it and suggest changes or other action.
  2. Address any concerns that the Authoritative Source raises.
  3. Update the Govern for Impact Principles Consistency Framework as appropriate.
  4. In relation to every issue raised with the Committee, the Issue Leader will:
    • Be in regular communication with the person(s) who presented the question or issue to update them on the committee's progress and eventual conclusion
    • Use input from the Committee to draft a likely resolution and all revisions thereof.
    • Request reviews of the draft by the Advisory Group and the Authoritative Source as appropriate.
    • Upon conclusion of the review, send a short summary write up of the presenting issue, the process of reasoning and the conclusion and outcomes to the CEO for publication on the Govern for Impact website.

Conference Materials Review Process

The Govern for Impact Consistency Framework Committee will lead the process of reviewing Conference Presentations and Materials to:

  1. Identify and address any principles issues with the presenter (including consistency, possible misperception that could lead to inconsistent understanding by presentation attendees and standard language and acronyms to increase the alignment of all presentations) and
  2. Offer any helpful suggestions about approach or presentation style.

 Items of principle need to be worked through to the satisfaction of the presenter and the reviewer, suggestions are offered on a take it or leave it basis.

The following process will be generally followed:

  1. Review teams of two per team are formed, primarily from the ranks of the Advisory Group and the Consistency Committee. If there are too few reviewers the Committee may recruit additional reviewers which they feel are able to fulfill the requirements. Those who are reviewers but not on the Advisory Group should be strongly considered for addition to the Advisory Group.
  1. New reviewers are trained in the process and the expectations of the position.
  1. Presenters who have not been through the Framework Orientation in the past will do so before submitting materials.
  1. The Committee will work with the CEO to establish a timeline for:
    1. Getting materials out for review,
    2. Managing the review process and
    3. Concluding the review work in time such that the publication and promotion of Conference sessions can be done smoothly and on time.
  2. One member of the Committee will manage the review teams, providing assignments and forwarding regular updates on progress, completion and remaining presentation to be received and/or reviewed.