The Essence of Carver's Policy Governance® Model:
A Machiavellian plot to reinforce an authoritarian Saskatchewan Healthcare

Nipawin - September 21, 2000 - by: Mario deSantis

elitist bureaucrats

My first impression of the Carver's Policy Governance® model was the assemblage of
directives to assist our elitist bureaucrats to serve themselves at the expense of everybody
else(1). I suggest that Dr. Carver would rethink some of his ideas on governance and have
a more natural understanding of human nature(2)(3) before he writes again and spreads his
Policy Governance® gospel to his congregation of followers, including Brian Rourke(4),
the fixed chair of the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO).




Let us see what this Policy Governance® model is about. Dr. Carver states that his
"Policy Governance® model is the world's only complete, universal theory of governance--a conceptually coherent paradigm of principles and concepts (not of structure). The model enables boards--as "servant-leaders" of shareholders, public, members (or other "ownership" equivalent)--to ensure that organizations achieve board-stated goals and conduct themselves with probity.... Because it is carefully crafted, it enables an efficient summing of board wisdom capable of adequate control without micromanagement(5)."



authoritarian environment

Dr. Carver is absolutely right when he says that his governance model is the world's
only complete and universal theory of governance. In fact, in a changing world
characterized by continuous learning(6) and infinite choices(7) we find in Dr. Carver's
Policy Governance® the only and best source of crafted wisdom to maintain a
regressive and authoritarian environment. And you know what this crafted wisdom
is, it is the governance by setting policies; so we have a governance by telling, we
have a governance by issuing edicts! Where is the due diligence and good faith to
serve the members of the organization and have a continuous dialogue with them?



satisfy the ENDS

I find Dr. Carver's use of the wording 'servant-leader' sacrilegious when I refer to
Robert Greenleaf's works on 'servant leadership(8).' Anyhow, in accordance to the
Carver's model, the Board is conceived to have only one employee in the Chief
Executive Officer, and its main job is to set policies to identify the goals of the
organization. These goals set by the Board are called 'ENDS'. The Chief Executive
Officer has the power to establish the procedures and methods to satisfy the ENDS
set by the Board, and these procedures and methods are called 'MEANS.' Therefore,
the role of the Board and the role of the Chief Executive Officer are clearly identified
and they are not overlapping, one role is called governance and the other is called
management (or administration). The Board takes care of the ENDS and the Chief
Executive Officer takes care of the MEANS. In particular, the Chief Executive Officer
has the power to choose any procedures or methods unless told otherwise by the Board.




The exclusive exercise of governance by the Board, and the exclusive exercise of
management by the Chief Executive Officer are artificial and dysfunctional activities. In
fact, you cannot have a sense of community, or a sense of bonding, or a sense of
partnership unless a dialogue is entertained among the Board, the Chief Executive
Officer, the staff, the members and all the other stakeholders. Therefore, the
compartmentalization of the functions of the Board and of the Chief Executive
Officer create nightmares for all the stakeholders of the organization. As consequence,
the Board's essential monitoring function to ensure that the MEANS satisfy the ENDS
provide an overall environment of distrust and a further escalation of new ENDS, more
Machiavellian MEANS and more nightmares.



by any

Lorna Cosper, former Board Chair of the Prairie West District Health, has properly
highlighted the tyrannical philosophy of the Carver's Policy Governance® model
when in addressing her Board she said: "we have the right to monitor any policy by
any method and at any time the Board chooses over and above regular monitoring(9)."
And it becomes apparent, that under the authoritarian Policy Governance® model,
people cannot grow, people cannot feel freer, people cannot become healthier, people
cannot become more autonomous.



Machiavellian plot

Let us hope we can wake up from the nightmares caused by this Machiavellian plot
of our incompetent leaders, throw away this Policy Governance® model and embrace
new administrative philosophies(10) where learning(11) and knowledge(12) are the common
denominators for the Board, for the Chief Executive Officer, for the staff , for the
members, and for all the stakeholders, that is all of us people.


A first impression of the Carver's Policy Governance® Model, by Mario deSantis, September 18, 2000


What it is to be human, by Humberto Maturana


The contributions of Humberto Maturana to the sciences of complexity and psychology, Alfredo B. Ruiz, Instituto de Terapia Cognitiva, Santiago, Chile


Brian Rourke wants more healthcare money: 40% of public expenditures are not enough, by Mario deSantis, November 14, 1999


Policy Governance® Defined, by Dr. John Carver,


Learning Organizations,


The Simplicity Manifesto, by Bill Jensen


The Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership


Chairperson's Report: Prairie West District Health, by Lorna Cosper, March 6, 1996, Kindersley, Saskatchewan. The Prairie West District Health uses the Policy Governance® model.


MANAGEMENT GENERAL, site managed by Tom Brown,



12. The BizTech Networktm, site founded by Dr. Yogesh Malhotra