A board’s maturity is a tool that helps you evaluate how well your board is managing itself. Its objective is to help board members improve performance and make the company more efficient. The process usually involves an online questionnaire that is self-administrated followed by a meeting with consultants to analyze the results. The majority of models employ a three to five levels scale to assess various aspects of the performance of your board. The first level is defined by impromptu processes without formal standards or alignment, whereas the second and third levels have more clearly defined and documented processes.
The most important feature of any maturity model is the way it is designed to prioritize learning for your board. If you know what your board’s current state is, it is easy to determine what skills you’ll need to learn the next. Certain models also include generalized estimates of how long it takes to move up the level at which you are currently (e.g. “a level change will take about six months and a reduction of 25% in productivity”).
Most boards begin at the bottom of maturity scale. They are the less conforming ones who are aware of their obligations and risks. They are hesitant to commit more time and resources than they need to governance, as they are unable to focus on their ‘proper’ jobs of managing.
They need to be aware that governing, an entirely different, unique and very different job, is not the same thing as executive management. It requires a totally separate level of professional development assessment, evaluation, and funding. It is a risky activity that challenges your thinking, understanding and willingness to take calculated risks in the complex and interconnected world of economics and politics.