Practice Lead, Data & Analytics @ Centric Consulting
June 23, 2022
If you’ve ever tried to convince a business (your own or another one) to undertake any sort of data governance initiative, you know that it is often a tough sell. Almost everyone has horror stories of complex MDM implementations or governance organization transformations that ultimately fail. And yet, we keep trying the same approach. Or, we break up the projects into a more manageable size. However, neither of these actions address the root of the problem. Any introduction of data governance impacts a large number of people, and is a large change in how they do business and interact for the better. So why not support that change with intentional frameworks that go beyond the technology and processes to address the people?
When we implement data governance solutions, whether they are new tools or organizational models or processes (and better yet – all three), we can not just ignore the norms of the business or the existing culture. Instead, we need to recognize them and determine what can possibly be changed in order to support adoption of the solution, and what organizational realities will remain that we will have to account for during implementation. People and change experts have many tools available to us that allow us to support holistic adoption and realization of value, and that can help us break down the barriers to governance in business’ current ways of working. But we have to be willing to recognize that those barriers exist and put in the work to figure out how to remove them or work around and through them.
The first piece of this effort is ensuring buy-in, and that work begins as early as discovery and solution-crafting. It certainly consists of creating a solid case for change, as well as getting the appropriate leadership alignment and sponsorship for the eventual implementation. It should also include things like casting a strong project vision, and setting the groundwork for communication and decision-making plans that will build confidence and trust in the change that is about to happen.
The second piece of the puzzle is the intentional enablement of the project itself. Change impact assessments and stakeholder analyses can help determine particular motivations and support needed by specific groups of people. Governance is not a one-size-fits-all effort, and the story that each person needs to hear and understand is different. They also have different constraints and requirements, so figuring out the right support for each area of the business is key in ensuring that they are able to participate and endorse the effort.
Finally, there is a need for dedicated adoption measures. In most organizations, people are not motivated to change. They’re not rewarded for change, and they’re not held accountable for change. By recognizing and incentivizing positive behaviors like participation in governance councils, and by holding people and businesses accountable for meeting milestones or exhibiting specific actions or behaviors, the overall trajectory of the project will be much more positive. And in order to change, people need more training and support, so by identifying new skills and development plans for helping people to acquire those skills, the chances of success go much higher.
When we provide the appropriate support for buy-in, enablement, and adoption, then governance projects are much more likely to succeed. We already know that technology and processes alone aren’t enough – the key is the people that interact with them.