In the interest of full disclosure, I am a true believer in governance– specifically data governance. My faith in governance did not materialize overnight. It developed like a slow burn over two decades of heavy data lifting. I also recognize that my faith in governance is shared by few, so most folks suffering from governance fatigue cringe when I drop the G-bomb.
Data Governance and the Dentist
Data governance fatigue is understandable. Practicing data governance is like going to the dentist; a necessary evil that involves a painful process to achieve results (sometimes). Personally I love going to the dentist, and remind those that do not share my sentiment that sugar is in everything we eat, and that healthy teeth & gums are essential to a person’s overall well-being.
You can avoid going to the dentist; you’re only hurting yourself. But avoiding data governance is not an option in today’s modern digital age, where data is everywhere and analytics are highly valued assets. So the cure for governance fatigue is not necessarily less governance, but better governance that is right-sized for the challenges at-hand.
Data Governance Best Practices
Here are some thoughts on how to practice better data governance hygiene:
- Find the “Goldilocks Zone” of governance. Right-sizing data governance is the most important ingredient to a successful initiative. We will be sharing more thoughts on how to establish methods to effectively tailor governance to meet challenges of varying size and scale in the near future. Stay tuned!
- Highlight internal success stories. It can’t all be bad, right? So qualify and quantify specific instances where data governance has produced tangible results. Demonstrate the value that governance has delivered in the real-world. Recognize and reward those on the front-lines of governance activities. Articulate the process that led to a successful outcome so these steps can be understood and applied to other reaches of the organization. Finally, provide demos of working examples in action so governance has a face and a name.
- Study the competition. Highlight examples of how your closest competitor uses governance to its advantage. Specifically find people in your company that were employed by a competitor and can articulate how things should work. Or diplomatically engage the enemy by swapping governance intel at a conference or industry forum.
- Preach patience. As explained in this CIO article, data governance is essential, but takes time to institutionalize. Setting unrealistic objectives and timeframes will compromise any initiatives and weaken credibility.
- Don’t force the issue. Governance for the sake of governance is the main cause of governance fatigue. If you are trying to govern business processes that require minimal governance, then people will tune you out really quickly. So make sure governance initiatives align to strategic and operational priorities.
- Drop the G-bomb without saying Governance. Governance fatigue is a real, tangible condition. I’ve talked with colleagues suffering from fatigue, and have banned the very mention of the word. Rather than avoiding the topic, be more selective in your choice of words. Invoke governance-centric code words such as “Standards”, “Oversight”, “Compliance”, “Policies”, “Stewardship”, and “SOPs”, then blend in business-centric terms that connect macro enterprise initiatives to projects at the micro level. For instance, a statement like “we curate and steward customer data from authoritative sources following documented SOP’s that were reviewed and approved by the business,” carries weight and embodies good data governance without saying it. While somewhat superficial and cosmetic, it helps make the topic of governance more concrete, digestible, and something that inspires confidence.
We hope these 6 tips help you or your team embrace the mindset of good governance rather than an over-abundance or total avoidance. Click here for an interesting take on Data Governance failures and how to avoid them.
By Dan Sandler