Power Shift and Governance Reform

In light of long-standing frustrations by international civil society organisation’s (ICSO) executives and board members with their current governance structures (e.g., cumbersome decision-making, under-representation of key constituencies and uneven strategy execution), the International Civil Society Centre sponsored a lab in September 2018 to explore the root causes of these challenges with leaders from eight ICSOs. Analysing the intersection of their power dynamics, organisational intent and governance models, each of these leaders identified changes their organisations should (or must) implement in order to function more effectively and delivered on their promised impacts.

This year, the Centre will organise a follow-on lab (Power Shift Lab 2.0) that focuses less on what needs to change for an organisation and more on how to successfully execute the most urgent power shifts and governance reforms that an organisation’s intent requires.

ICSOs need to break the circle of frequent governance reform by transforming their governance into a different and much more effective system. They need to transform their governance structures and processes in such a way that their key stakeholders – especially representatives from the Global South – have appropriate roles, responsibilities and powers in the organisation.

The Centre aims to support ICSOs with devising and launching this transformation process. The Centre invites Board Chairs, Board Members, CEOs, Deputy CEOs and other top-level leaders to jointly develop new, more effective and more legitimate forms of ICSO governance at its Power Shift Lab 2.0 – Leading the Power Shift.

The lab will:

  • identify the current status of the ‘golden triangle’ in the different organisations, particularly why those stand in the way of reaching their intent;
  • develop a picture of more effective/legitimate power and governance structures;
  • help strategise revolutionary vs. evolutionary approaches;
  • explore how to address the most crucial dimensions of power shift, such as overcoming barriers, improving accountability and engaging with the right people and allies;
  • allow for deep dives into dimensions that are most relevant for the respective organisations (such as the organisational intent, how power dynamics have shifted, how governance consists of more than just structures);
  • develop or strengthen strategies to drive the power shift.


Next Event:  10 – 12 March, 2020, Berlin Germany