How to run an effective governance meeting

How to run an effective Governance Meeting

Once your team has defined its Roles and responsibilities, how do you keep them up-to-date? The answer is a recurring governance meeting! Read on to learn what a governance meeting is and how to run one effectively.

What is a governance meeting?

A governance meeting is a recurring meeting to improve how you work together as a team. During the session, you'll create, remove or modify the team's Roles and responsibilities. You explicitly don't discuss your work; you discuss how you work together.

Why do you need governance meetings?

Governance meetings are valuable because they help your team be more effective and cohesive. A team's Roles and responsibilities are not static; they must adapt to change. In governance meetings, you finetune and improve Roles to ensure everyone is on the same page. In addition, discussing Roles, accountabilities, and ways of working during the governance meetings prevents these discussions from hijacking other sessions.

Respond to changes in the work environment

Things change constantly. Team members leave, and others join the team. New tools or technologies enter the picture. Your team receives questions or requests from other parts of the organization, or new tasks require attention. In governance meetings, your team makes the necessary adjustments to Roles and responsibilities to keep teamwork effective and future-proof.

Rebalancing workload in governance meetings

Governance meetings are very effective for workload balancing. Packages of work can be (temporarily) transferred to other team members in governance meetings by reassigning Roles or responsibilities. So, for example, when one team member is overloaded with work or when a hectic period arises for one Role, other team members can help out.

A healthy team atmosphere

Teams benefit on an emotional level from governance meetings. Team members are encouraged to discuss their needs and concerns openly. This open discussion helps to promote a culture of transparency and collaboration in your team. It will also contribute to the 'team feeling' due to coming together, making collective decisions, and working towards the same goals. In addition, having regular open discussions will prevent tensions and unclarities from evolving into irritations or conflicts.

How often do you need a governance meeting?

At least one governance meeting is needed monthly to keep everyone aligned and optimize team performance.
A weekly governance meeting is advisable for starting teams or existing teams starting with Roles. Planning the first few meetings close together is helpful because the initial set of Roles likely requires finetuning. In addition, talking about Roles and thinking in Roles takes some getting used to initially.
When working in Roles becomes more natural and your Roles are more refined, you will find less to discuss, and governance meetings will become shorter. Once the duration of a governance meeting drops below 30 minutes, you can consider doubling the time between governance meetings.

Some teams prefer shorter meetings more frequently, while others plan longer sessions at a lower frequency.


Try to fit a recurring governance meeting in an existing pattern of meetings (for example, retrospective or planning meetings). Embedding governance meetings in an existing routine makes it easier for the team to get comfortable with Roles fast.

Running a governance meeting

During the governance meeting, one team member has the Role of facilitator. The facilitator schedules the meeting and ensures the structured processing of agenda items. Being the facilitator means you must be very strict and disciplined during the session to keep the discussion on course and ensure that all agenda items get processed.


Some teams like to rotate the Role of facilitator between team members (for example, every few weeks). Rotating the facilitator Role allows everyone to participate and lead during a governance meeting.

The uniqueness of a governance meeting

Governance meetings are very different from 'regular' meetings. Governance meetings have a strict format that is very efficient and effective. This rigid structure in governance meetings is called 'integrative decision-making.' The basis of 'integrative decision-making is the concept that every proposal a team member adds to the agenda is good enough to try. This means that the team will accept every proposal unless someone has a valid objection. In this structure, there is no need for consensus and, therefore, no need for long debates. If something is not a success, a future proposal can fix that. As a result, governance meetings take some getting used to, especially for people fond of in-depth discussions. After a while, your team will not want anything else, and other meetings will start to feel long and random 🙂.

Meeting template for an effective governance meeting

±30 - 90 minutes

For your first meeting, use our workshop template to get started with Roles.

  1. Check-in

    5 minutes

    The meeting starts with a short check-in. During the check-in, the facilitator uses (one of) the following prompts:

    • How are you feeling?
    • What is on your mind?
    • What has your attention?

    Everyone answers one by one, with no reactions or discussion.
    A check-in helps attendees to focus and be present for the meeting. It provides the opportunity to get something off your chest while at the same time giving others context about what is on your mind.
    For example, if a customer yelled at you just before the meeting, telling the others and mentioning that you are a bit shaken can be helpful.

  2. Building the agenda for the meeting

    10 minutes

    The facilitator builds the agenda by inviting everyone to contribute proposals. Proposals don't necessarily have to be about your Roles and responsibilities. They can be about any Role in the team. There are two main drivers for a proposal:

    • Something is not working as expected or is unclear.
    • Something new has arisen that needs doing. For example, a new task, a request from another team, etc.

    There is a strict format for processing the proposals; see steps 3 to 9 below. The facilitator repeats these steps for all agenda items.

Repeat steps 3-9 for each proposal

  1. Presentation of the proposal


    The proposer, who added the proposal to the agenda, presents the proposal:

    • Explaining the reason for the proposal - a problem, struggle, or unclarity.
    • Highlighting the intent, what she wants to achieve with the proposal, and
    • Suggesting a fix or solution.


    Mo proposes: “Customer service complains that they receive questions about new releases that users don't know about. It takes them time and effort to answer those questions. To minimize those questions, the communication department would like to know when we are releasing new features so they can prepare communication about that release on time. Therefore, I propose that the Product Owner sends a mail to Claire from the communication department two days before every release.”

  2. Clarifying round


    Team members can ask questions to the proposer to better understand the proposal. Only clarifying questions are allowed, and no objections, opinions, or discussions.


    In our example, Mike can ask: “Do we know what type of questions the customer service receives?” And Cindy asks: “Why do you propose the product owner sends the email?”


    As a facilitator, pay attention to opinions or objections formulated as questions. They should are allowed in the next step: the reaction round.

  3. Reaction round


    Team members individually provide feedback, thoughts, input, suggestions, and concerns regarding the proposal. If team members foresee that the proposal will cause other problems, they mention them. No discussion.


    In our example, Dave can suggest: “I have worked in communication, and I know two days are too short for creating proper communication. So I propose a week minimum, especially if it is a big release.” And Cindy: “I know Claire works two days a week. On the days she is not present, Adrian works in communication.”

  4. Amendment and clarification


    The proposer can clarify or amend the proposal based on the reactions. No discussion.


    In our example, Mo can amend the proposal in the following way: “I propose that the Product Owner sends an email to Clair and Adrian at least one week before every release to notify them about the release.”

  5. Objection round


    Everyone states whether they have objections. If there are no objections, the proposal is accepted.

  6. Integration round

    Only when there are objections

    If there are objections, the facilitator decides how to address those. There are two options:

    • Ask the proposer and objector(s) to develop an improved proposal outside the meeting. Choose this option if they need to look into something or when they need to consult people outside the team. Then, the proposer can add the improved proposal to the agenda for the next governance meeting.
    • When reformulating the proposal on the spot seems doable, AND you have a few minutes to spare within the meeting's timeframe, ask the proposer and objector to formulate an improved proposal now. You can give them a timebox of a few minutes. Then, repeat the objection round for the enhanced proposal.
  7. Acceptation of the proposal


    When a proposal is accepted, the team makes the necessary adjustments in Roles and responsibilities in Role-up. Then, you move on to the following item on the agenda.


    In our example, the team adds a responsibility to the Role ‘Product Owner’: “Notifying the communication department at least one week before every release.”

    Return to step 3 for the next proposal

  1. Check-out

    5 minutes

    End with a check-out. Check-outs allow everyone to share their thoughts and feelings about the meeting and provide feedback if they want to. Mention the date and time of the next meeting.

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