MFS results depend on people who are delegated and empowered to make decisions and act on them. At the same time, MFS Committee needs to exercise responsible oversight of the affairs of the society as a whole. MFS has statutory requirements that all financial transactions of the society are included in society reporting and able to be audited, and assets belonging to the society are listed in the annual financial statements.
The MFS operates under a decentralised management model.
MFS Committee assigns full authority to carry out delegated activities, subject only to accountability and review after the event. MFS Committee remains responsible for all outcomes and takes "supervisory" action where needed - staffing, mentoring, counselling, training, or requesting information.
MFS Organisers are accountable for their decisions and must keep MFS Committee fully informed of results and issues, etc.
The Monaro Folk Society is run with goodwill and good humour by a small army of generous volunteers, in an increasingly complex legal and insurance environment. As well as pursuing our basic objective of promoting folk activities and interests, it is critical that we keep up with the times, with appropriate financial management and reporting, relevant insurances, risk management and so on.
Authorisation and Reporting
In this complex environment and with a minimum of necessary administrative overhead, the MFS needs clarity and certainty around our authorisation of people to make decisions and act on them. At the same time, we need openness and transparency of all our operations so that the MFS Committee can exercise responsible oversight of the affairs of the society as a whole. We also have statutory requirements that all financial transactions of the society are included in our reporting and able to be audited, and assets belonging to the society are listed in the annual financial statements.
Decentralised Decision Making
The MFS operates under a decentralised management model that is particularly well suited to a volunteer organisation like ours. This means that the office-holders, committees (or teams, sub-committees etc) and other organisers that report directly to the MFS Committee all have important responsibilities. For ease of reference, let us call them "MFS Organisers", or just "Organisers". All other volunteers report to these organisers, and the organisers report to MFS Committee.
The phrase "report to" is used for the want of a better term. However "the grateful recipient of your help" would be a more accurate description of the role that you "report to" since we are all volunteers. The MFS is closer to a loose collection of co-operating individuals than it is a formal bureaucracy, but some formality is needed for legal and insurance purposes, and a successful organisation.
Again, we need to adopt some terms that may seem out of place in an informal volunteer organisation like ours, but in fact the principle of "delegation" is crucial to the success of large enterprises, whether they are formal organisations or looser collections of co-operating individuals like Monaro Folk Society.
"To delegate" is to assign authority to another, and that is what MFS Committee does in its decentralised organisation of volunteers. MFS Committee temporarily gives up its own immediate power to carry out activities it has delegated, while retaining the right to revoke the delegation.
MFS Committee assigns full authority to carry out those delegated activities, subject only to accountability and review after the event. MFS Committee does not exert direct control over organisers at the time that the delegated decisions and actions are taken, and organisers have full authority to carry out activities which have been delegated to them.
However, MFS Committee does not abrogate its responsibility to achieve optimal outcomes, and so MFS Committee needs to be kept fully informed of results and issues, etc, and to take "supervisory" action where needed - perhaps mentoring, counselling, training, or requesting information.
Organisers might in turn delegate authority to helpers of some kind.
It is likely that these arrangements will be quite informal, but delegation is what is actually happening.
To summarise, MFS Committee gives up its own immediate power to carry out delegated activities for two reasons: there would be no reason to delegate if the MFS Committee could carry them out satisfactorily; and once having delegated an activity, the appropriate way of ensuring that it is carried out satisfactorily is by reporting and review, not by direct action.
As a result of an act of delegation, the organiser receives responsibility for that activity and the MFS Committee is no longer directly responsible for it.
Note two important points:
- The MFS Committee, although no longer directly responsible for the action, is usually still responsible, indirectly, for ensuring that it is carried out;
- The act of delegation, though it may relieve MFS Committee of the direct duty to carry out the activity, does not relieve MFS Committee of accountability. If serious consequences follow from the faulty carrying out of a delegated activity, MFS Committee cannot usually avoid blame by claiming that responsibility was delegated.
After an activity has been delegated it cannot be performed by MFS Committee, or delegated again by MFS Committee unless the first delegation is revoked.
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