Your New Year Fitness Regime

Roz Bonnet, 13.01.2017

It is acknowledged that it is a trustee’s/board member’s role to govern and a manager’s role to manage, but is this actually what happens in your museum? With matters pressing to be done immediately it is easy to get sucked into the here and now, leaving little time to consider your museum’s strategic aims and your responsibilities and role as a member of the governing body in ensuring that they are achieved.  This status quo, especially in small organisations where both functions can blur into one another, has probably developed over time.

How to break out of the vicious circle? Is it necessary to do so? Well, yes it is, otherwise the board (and you as individually liable trustees) may be failing in its legal obligations and will almost certainly not be realising the full potential of the organisation or the people involved in running it – trustees, volunteers, staff – thus compromising the resilience of your museum.

There are practical tools to use and techniques to learn that will help boards operate more effectively. Don’t panic, we’re not talking about a team building commando course across Dartmoor! A board meeting that focuses solely on strategy, a social event to get to know your colleagues, a skills audit and needs analysis can all be part of an equally effective, more low-key mix.  What is fundamental though is an honest understanding and appraisal of how the board is functioning now, how it could do better and the steps needed to do so.  Time taken on this will reap great rewards, not just in terms of the success of your museum and the sense of achievement this will bring, but also in terms of time saved in the long run and relationships eased due to increased mutual co-operation and understanding.

No time? New Year resolutions already flagging? Don’t let your intention of sharpening up your board’s effectiveness be one of them!  Here at SW Museum Development we understand the pressures you are under and so are running a practical workshop on board effectiveness to begin the journey with you, to remind you what good governance looks like and help you draw up a realistic plan that will transform the way you operate.  Because we know how important this subject is to museums we are running a session on Developing Board Effectiveness twice, once in Exeter and once in Bristol and are encouraging museums to send at least two delegates along – it can be difficult to implement new working practices alone. Book now at

For those in Cornwall; Cornwall Museum Partnership also recognise the value of good governance and are running a session specifically on this topic, to find out more and to book please see here:

Vicky Dawson

SW Accreditation Technical Adviser


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