Thoughts on Governance...
Governance as defined implies a subset of people with authority, providing direction, and by default assumes some spectrum of politicking –- or more properly stated: differing viewpoints on shared issues. We will see governance in several domains, some formal some informal. We find governance in IT Strategy, Finance, Business, Projects, and even HR. Some of the more common formalized governance is very process-oriented. The informal governance of a decision can be handled with behavioral interaction (i.e. having unmanaged meetings with key stakeholders to gain consensus) peers and managers I have worked with often call this “socializing”. There is a subtle and more subversive means of informal governance in which influential individuals lobby for or against a decision / project / promotion. Although actions like this may historically have saved groups from serious mistakes, it’s not always repeatable and may create an environment where permission isn’t asked for...forgiveness is.
Although I enjoy articles such as this from ZapThink, I suspect there is no self-help audio tape, book, or analyst framework that has the secret-code on governance cracked (although by way of this blog I invite comments to the contrary!). It’s often a product of the culture. It can be a predictor of change. It’s usually a sign of delegated leadership. The one thing that I suspect most would agree on is that it’s always painful at first to get assimilated.
To conclude this soap-box, here’s my advice:
• Keep the process simple and well documented
• Keep the number of participants to the smallest number possible...but no smaller
• Invite resources from multiple parts of the organization to sit-in on sessions to eliminate shrouds of secrecy
• Identify neutral moderators who can set calendars and take notes
• Assess behavior aspects from two different dimensions:
(1) The organizational model...where you’ve been
(2) The strategy...where you’re going.
• IT governance needs to include people that understand the technology
• Governance can be more valuable across domains, too much detail will corrupt agility
• Governance decisions need to be audited and enforced
• If a leader appoints a governance body, that leader should avoid overriding or circumventing that body's delegated authority
• Success can be measured equally in work that gets halted as in work that gets accelerated
• Some of the best governance is self-governance and empowerment. Start with architect education. Groups of business analysts, project managers, developers, controllers, architects, application owners... all are candidates for taking on this accountability. By having everyone own a piece, a common respect and buy-in for the overall direction evolves.
In the end it’s just about leadership and prosperity.