In my notes from our last Data Governance Council Meeting, I commented on the continuing confusion in many organizations on where Governance below the board fits and how it works. I continue to hear questions about "Business" and "IT", how they should get along and contribute to Data Governance.
In my own presentations on Data Governance, I often talk about the "Six Question Every Company Should Ask about Data Governance" and #1 is always
"Do we have a Government?"
And, I often go on to show a top-down hierarchical Governance model and talk about the need for functional and operational charters to define governing powers. But, to be self-critical, I haven't help define the questions that are central to governance; ie, where does it fit and how does it integrate within the organization.
A few months ago a colleague in Germany sent me an interesting white paper called Holacracy. It was long and boring looking so I let it sit on my desk for three months before reading it seriously. The paper, and the Methodology, is the work of a small company called Ternary Software and Holacracy can best be defined as a new method of x-matrix communication and decision-making in a more formalized manner.
There are many aspects of this model that are, in my opinion, hopelessly idealistic in large organizations. But there also some extremely useful ideas that I do think can help large and small organizations to better integrate Data, IT, and even SOA Governance in context to the culture and expectations of "The Business." There are three ideas in this model that I think are especially important to Data Governance:
Double LinkingIntegrative Decision-MakingDynamic Steering
A few excerpts from one of the papers to whet your appetite:
"Double-linking - Circles are not fully autonomous; each circle is linked to the circles above and below it by at least two people who participate in the decision-making of both circles. One of these two people (typically the manager of the business unit or department, called the “lead link”) is appointed from above. The lead link is responsible for representing the needs of the higher-level circle, and is accountable for the lower-level circle’s results. The other person, called the “representative link,” represents the needs of the lower-level circle at the higher-circle meetings.
In this way, Holacracy achieves bi-directional process control by ensuringthat each circle’s decision-making process takes into consideration the needs of its linked (higher-level and lower-level) circles."
"Integrative decision-making - This principle begins with the premise that all perspectives hold some intrinsic value, some piece of the truth. Or as integral philosopher Ken Wilber puts it, “No one is smart enough to be 100 percent wrong.”
Holacracy’s goal is tointegrate perspectives as quickly and effectively as possible. Integrative decision-making is designed to prevent people or teams from overriding an important perspective simply because they don’t see its value. Robertson offers the example of when he nearly crashed his airplane because he ignored the information on the low-voltage indicator. “All the other gauges looked fine to me, so I thought it wasn’t important,” he said. He was nearly dead wrong.
This pattern shows up all the time in modern organizations. With everything moving so quickly, it’s easy to neglect the perspectives of others. Yet, like the voltage indicator, one of those perspectives might hold the key to a more complete picture of realityone that could lead to a more effective and powerful decision, perhaps a crash-preventing decision."
"Dynamic steering - The idea that any decision can be revisited at any time is central to dynamic steering, a practice designed to help organizations learn and adapt quickly in a complex, rapidly changing environment. Essentially, dynamic steering is an agile way of guiding the organization toward its goals by holding an aim in mind, staying attuned to emerging reality and making frequent course corrections along the way."
I had to read this paper a couple of times to get over my own skepticism. Some of Holacracy reads new-age loony and I can imagine some Wall Street razor-elbowed executives using this paper to wipe up dog poop on the sidewalk. But read it again, and then change the names of what this stuff is called and imagine trying some of it, slowly, where you work. I think some of these ideas have the potential to turn the Governance part of DG into a more productive process.[Read More]
Adler on Data Governance
On February 27-29, I hosted the 15th meeting of the Data Governance Council at the Wales Hotel, in New York City. 31 people registered to attend this meeting, including 16 IBMers, and representatives from JPMC, Bank of Tokyo/Mitsubishi, Bank of Montreal, Key Bank, State Street, MasterCard, and American Express, OpenPages, Axentis, Varonis, and Vericept.
On the first day, we had excellent keynote presentations from Garrick Utley, President of the Levin Institute, and Will Pelgrin, Director of the NYS Cybercrime Taskforce. We also had some good roundtable discussions on common challenges in Data Governance related to Sub-prime, Basel II, and other issues. On the second day, we continued discussing common challenges and reviewed IBM Data Governance Solutions with regards to Policy and Process Management, Data Modeling and Development, MDM, Metadata and Data Quality Management. On the last day, we left the agenda and had a long discussion on the future of the Council. Cal Braunstein rounded out the event with an excellent closing keynote on the risks to and from Data, and the risks to organizations from data we can't trust.
We spent a lot of time talking about Globalization and it's effects on competition, regulation, cybercrime, and risk. Globalization is having a corrosive effect on trust in many organizations. Pressure from regulations requiring oversight and reporting of employee use of IT increases distrust at all levels. Cybercrime and the increasing financial value of data challenges everyone with offers and scams that make it hard to trust information. These factors are creating internal crises in trust and confidence. The manipulation and monitoring of information technology by people over other people threatens the quality and value of decision-making at a time when global competition brutally punishes bad decisions.
The Globalization of threats, risk, regulation, and competition will immediately force organizational decision-making inward, towards hierarchical models of decision-making, even as the globalization of markets, labor and resource allocation forces more horizontal changes in culture, lifestyle, and freedom.
This Council has existed for three years, and many members, by virtue of their participation, have achieved more mature levels of Data Governance. They have cross organizational governance models, better transparency and better decision-making. Many newer members are just now exploring organizational models, business vs IT participation, the nature of Stewardship and the complexities of overcoming organizational stovepipes.
Enclosed are my notes and observations from this landmark meeting:
1. Data Governance Market Maturity: Data Governance as a market is maturing from the Innovator phase, where a few leading companies worked together to blaze a trail for others to follow, to the early adopter phase. We are clearly seeing some leading companies succeed with Data Governance, thanks in part to the Data Governance Maturity Model, and many many more now coming into this market looking to build on the success and experience of the innovators.
For those of us pioneers, this is a time of change, and we must adapt to a new market constituency requiring education and solutions with somewhat less tolerance for discovery and invention. The Data Governance Starter's Guide should be updated as an educational onboarding tutorial for new companies seeking Data Governance success. For vendors, this is a time to study solution packaging and focus on the support needs of the stewardship community. Stewardship is a profession still in its infancy, and it requires practitioner tools, education, and community forums to exchange practices and success stories.
We should all be proud that our contributions have move the market to this new phase, and the Council needs to change to grow with the Market.
2. IBM Data Governance Solutions: IBM has come a long way in its Data Governance Solution capabilities since 2006, which was the last time we had a major showcase of technologies on the Council Agenda. Most of our solutions - Compliance Warehouse, Integrated Data Management, MDM and Industry Models, Data Quality and Metadata tools - were very well received. But this Council has succeeded exactly because it is not a normal IBM Customer Advisory Board, where normal meetings are dominated by IBM solution exhibitions. Rather, it has succeeded as a unique forum for practitioner exchanges, and it must remain this way to continue.
Future meetings will be shorter, practitioner driven, and IBM will find additional venues to present Data Governance solutions.
3. Globalization: At Mohonk in 2004, at the inaugural Data Governance Summit, I presented some ideas about how information technology would transform the modern corporation, and how integral Data Governance would be to that process. I was heavily influenced by Tom Malone and his book the Future of Work, and also by the history of industrial regulation at the dawn of the 20th Century.
In NY, we re-examined some of these topics through presentations from Garrick Utley, Will Pelgrin, and Cal Braunstein, and I think we need to continue examining how the global pressures on information technology, regulation, cybercrime, risk, and transparency will impact Data Governance and organizational behavior. Many companies that have embraced Data Governance have stopped short of embracing x-organizational governance bodies with real authority. Most don't know which models to follow, examples of success to emulate, how it should work.
In my travels I've seen many governance models in corporate and national entities that offer some hope to modern organizations, and I think we ought to be the Council that inventories these models, compares their pros and cons, and presents alternatives to hierarchical organization.
4. Data Risk Standards: In the Xiao Dynasty in China, rulers practiced Risk-based decision making by consulting an Oracle, who dropped an Oxen hip bone on the floor and deciphered the direction of the crack in the bone as indicative of divine truth. If the crack pointed up, you had good favor for your decision, down, well you better ask again. People consulted the Oracle on every kind of decision - dental surgery, marital options, taxation, or war - and they would drop 6-9 ox bones and average the results, thinking that more data would provide more accurate results. Every question to the Oracle was journalized, and outcomes were constantly compared to the ox-bone forecasts. Records of these inquiries survive today, providing the oldest known risk forecasting models. Three thousand years ago, this was the first form of risk-based decision making, and while it may seem primitive to us it was at least systemic which is more than we can say about ERM practices today.
Enterprise Risk Management today is still a voodoo art practiced by a secret society of Risk Managers in a language few understand. It is expensive, bespoke, non-standard, and under-utilized. Market, Credit, or Operational Risk consequences are not understood by the vast majority of employees who make enterprise decisions because none of them have access to even Oxen bones today, let alone risk-based forecasting models that allow decision makers to compare options, forecast outcomes, and compare results to the forecasts.
To get to that state, where ERM is a common discipline that every employee can use for enlightened decision-making, new Data Risk standards are needed, to make ERM simpler, cheaper, and more systemically repeatable, and that is another contribution this Council can make. We will next meet on June 26th at the Federal Reserve in Washington, DC to explore that opportunity in depth.
What was evident at this meeting is that Data Governance challenges have changed in three years. We are still at the cusp of changes in the way modern, post-industrial, organizations are governed. Even the most mature members of the Data Governance Council have not substantially changed the way their organizations perform decision-making. It is still top-down, barely delegated, with little or no trust extending from the top to the bottom of an organization. Many governance bodies or teams have little or no direct decision-making authority - neither funding mandates nor project veto powers. The light of information still shines brightest from the bottom-up, with those at the top getting the best view of the light and those at the bottom simply blinded by it.
We need new models of organizational governance, new data standards in ERM, and renewed investment in risk-based decision making at all enterprise levels. This remains the challenge of Data Governance in the early adopter market evolution.[Read More]