Two years ago, I met Helmut Willke, the author of Smart Governance: Governing the Global Knowledge Society, at a hotel cafe near the great cathedral of Cologne. Professor
Willke is a sociologist who teaches Global Governance at the Zeppelin
University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Late in 2009 I became
interested in Governance as a system of decision-making and Professor
Willke had written an excellent book exploring this topic. While the
Professor is German, he writes extremely well in English and his book
very well written and insightful. Like a lot of philosophical texts, it
is not an easy read. Dense descriptions, long sentences, and theory
backed by ample example make it a book you have to read at least twice
to fully comprehend.
I was in Cologne in late February 2010 to meet the CIO of the City and attend Rosenmontag at City Hall
. I had already seen several days of Karnival, with the endless parades, costumes
and candy strewn about the streets. For five or six days in February,
the staid and reserved city of Cologne becomes an endless drunken party
attracting visitors from all over the world who wear outrageous costumes
and march in parades on incredible floats and throw candy to the
bystanders. Its unlike any parade I have ever seen. Quite amazing.
It had snowed a lot that year. It was white from Brussels to Berlin,
and Cologne was still covered by eight inches. The square in front of
the Dom was clear, and I had spent the morning before our meeting
visiting the Roman museum across the square. Cologne is an ancient
Roman city and the ruins are collected in a fantastic museum right next
to the Dom. Of course there are columns and pediments, but also beautiful mosaic floors, jewellery, stained glass,
and decorative arts. There is a model of the Roman city and you can
see how the Germans built the city on the same street grid with walls
built on top of the Roman walls. Of course, much of this was destroyed
by allied bombs in WWII, but some remnants remain.
Looking back at Roman colonial rule of Cologne was an excellent
introduction to the systemic ideas of Governance Professor Willke and I
discussed over coffee that afternoon. He is not a tall man, mostly grey
late-50′s I would say, with bright blue eyes. He makes an immediate
impression, and is passionate about his book. I had used the book as
text for a class I taught at the Bucerius Law School on Data Governance
in Hamburg that January. My students did not entirely appreciate the
dense prose and abstract ideas, but through class conversation we did
ultimately appreciate the idea that Governance is a system of
decision-making that could be described and modelled. And we used
Social Networking metaphors to explore the idea of policy-making, human
behaviours in a system of Governance, and how to model potential
outcomes. Of course there is political science, which describes
political models of Governance – Democracy, Dictatorship, Monarchy, etc –
but what is unique and important about Professor Willke’s book is the
application of systems theory to Governance.
We had some coffee and talked mostly about how the Professor wrote
the book and why. As I had in 2007-8, the Professor had used the Global
Credit Crisis as a use case to describe failures in Governance. I had
covered this topic from a Data Governance perspective, arguing that
hundreds of incremental failures in business processes and data quality
had produced a domino effect that plunged the global economy into
Depression. He covered the topic from a decision-making perspective,
and while we approached this topic from different directions we arrived
at similar conclusions – policy-makers can’t possibly make the best
decisions without understanding the consequences of those decisions on
incredibly complex and interconnected global systems. And those
consequences are impossible to understand without new information
systems that render the complexity with software and illustrate how the
policies will be accepted and resisted.
In my class at Bucerius, my students complained that the Professor
had not done enough to provide solutions to the problems he had
identified, or that his solutions were too abstract. I presented these
criticisms to him at our meeting and he responded that it was not
possible to offer concrete solutions because every systemic problem
needs to be modelled to understand the variables and outcomes – that
there is no one size fits all. At the time, I thought this was a
dodge. It took me a few more years to understand that he was right.
There are no Governance Solutions that can auto-magically produce the
best outcomes for every decision. But it is possible for policy-makers
to use systems theory and software to construct decision-making models
that can plot many of the actors, objects, variables, and potential
outcomes to understand the impact of policies on complex systems made up
of hundreds, thousands, and even millions of human beings with unique
After my course, I synthesised concepts from the book with ideas from my students to create the Six Steps to Smart Governance.
It’s not meant to be a Framework. Frameworks and models are nice tools
to help people feel more secure about challenges they seek to overcome,
but they are not useful in making better decisions. The Six Steps are
meant to be a structure for decision-making that one would apply
iteratively; in which each of the six steps would involve different data
points and variables. Of course, it is highly summarised, flavoured
with marketing. And I would say in hindsight, its not really useful as a
practical or operational tool. It’s really just a theory, a
simplification of the better documented ideas Professor Willke writes
about in his book.
And I think we can do better. In the IBM Data Governance Council we
will soon begin to explore dynamic simulation models that go far beyond
the Six Steps to Smart Governance, and I recommend reading both the white paper and Professor Willke’s book:
Smart Governance: Governing the Global Knowledge Society
Today, thanks to really powerful simulation software, we can create
dynamic models that help demonstrate the impact of policy on people,
processes, and technology. The Data Governance Simulation Project will
revolutionise the field of Data Governance by applying theory, software,
and observed practices to an interactive model that will yield powerful
insights into Data Governance Value Creation and Risk Mitigation.
A lot of people ask me, “how do I show the value of metadata?” Some
say, “how do I make the business case for Data Governance?” Consultants
and Gurus will have a framework or process to offer you, a get started
guide with use-case examples, graphics, and legends about their
successes. But these myths won’t help you, because your challenges are
unique. Your politics are special, and your people are not machines.
Best practices are useful examples of glorified solutions that are very
hard to replicate outside the lab. And as many are already finding out,
people resist policies they don’t think apply to them and its really
tricky to understand how to change organisational behaviours on an
on-going basis without policies that dynamically change with new
Data Governance is, by nature, a systemic challenge and you can’t
solve systemic problems without systemic solutions. Projects and teams
that expect quick hits and 90-results are the reason you have systemic
Data Governance problems in the first place. But it is possible to
create software models that allow you to plot the goals, metrics,
policies, communications, outcomes, variables, and modifiers and
evaluate the impact of new policies and controls on your environment.
And that’s the lesson of Smart Governance: you can model complex
environments through Simulation and make better decisions. To learn
more about using Simulations to make better decisions, take a look at
the IBM Smarter Cities Demo.
In that demo, the complex interactions of human beings living in a city
are compared to the goals of human policies, the metrics measured by
interactions, and potential outcomes.
Many of our organisations are as complex as small cities. Policy and
Politics share the same ancient Greek root word – epolis. epolis is a
city, which itself is an aggregation of human beings who require
Governance to arbitrate their diverse interests and achieve better
outcomes for all. Today, we can simulate those interactions and help
Policy makers profile the impact of their policies before they are
deployed. Its a kind of Visual Risk Calculation.
If you would like to participate in the Data Governance Simulation
project, please read the Six Steps to Smart Governance White Paper, the book
by Professor Willke, and join the IBM Data Governance Council by executing this membership agreement.
Only members of the Council will be able to participate in this
exercise and you don’t want to miss this because it will fundamentally
change Data Governance.
The US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is celebrating its 45th Birthday this year. It was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson on July 4, 1966, and its goal was to provide Americans with the right to petition their government to release documents deemed in the public interest which might not otherwise ever see the light of day. Since FOIA was enacted, hundreds of thousands of public records have been released. However, the process is not easy. Requests must be made in writing, documents must be found and analysed by the government, and FOIA requests can often take many years to fulfil if the government has an interest in withholding the information.
All requested records are provided on paper because in 1966 that's all there was. Computers occupied huge glass rooms and were not used for document archival or retrieval. Today of course, huge amounts of data and documents are stored on computers and the process of document retrieval should be much faster. But the government doesn't really want to make it easier because that would make government accountability far more transparent and lets face it people on the inside don't like transparency.
But the opacity of information is damaging. It creates asymmetries that favour organisations and disadvantage individuals.
Examples. You go to your doctor when you are sick and they pull out a big file on you. If you see a specialist, the doctor forwards your file to them. Get surgery and that goes in the file too. How come doctors have your data but you don't get a copy by default?
Answer: the medical industry just hasn't worked that way in the past and giving up your data means they give up some control over you as a patient. If you had your own data, you could share it online anonymously and ask many other patients and practitioners around the world to offer you options that might help you deal with your illness and find a cure beyond the scope and capabilities of your local practitioners. That capability isn't in their interest as care providers, but is in your interest. Unfortunately, your health information isn't free to obtain, and the continued opacity of your own data hurts you.
Another example. Congress is being lobbied today to pass all kinds of new restrictions on copyright infringement. Websites may be taken down if infringement is alleged, and there's even a new bill proposed to make the streaming of copyright material illegal. Why is it that corporations get so much protection for their content but you and I enjoy almost none? Why can't we copyright our Personally Identifiable Information and force organisations to pay us to use it?
You don't have Information Freedom if you can't even control your own information.
Lets reform FOIA before we celebrate its 50th Anniversary and make the Freedom of Information a universal human right. Our government should be transparent, access to trusted information should be unhindered, cheap, and universal, and we as citizens and consumers should be able to exercise far more control over our own information as a fundamental right of freedom.
Not two months after I made this declaration at the IBM Data Governance Council Meeting at the US Embassy in Paris on April 14, 2011 (and wrote about it in a blog on May 11), the United Nations has published a report entitled "The Freedom of Information as an Internationally Protected Human Right."
I am honored that the UN read my blog and agrees. You can read the report here: Freedom of Information as a Human Right
Since the 18th Century, Freedom of Expression has become enshrined in constitutions around the world as a Basic Human Right. It defines Democracy in its defense and Dictatorships in its assault. People like to control and don't like to be controlled, and the tension between controlling and being controlled requires this Human Right to be defended and re-defined every year. Sometimes, like during the McCarthy Era in the United States, the tide turns against Freedom. Other times, like in the Middle East today, the Freedom to speak changes the course of history.
But there is another Freedom not yet defended as a universal Human Right that should be and it is the Freedom of Information - the right to be informed, to learn. This right is implied by the Freedoms of Press and Speech, but it is not articulated explicitly as a constitutional right. Around the world, many nations have Freedom of Information Acts that require national and local governments to make information available to the public. Those acts were created when widespread access to information was rare. Libraries and archives were places where large amounts of information could be physically retrieved and governmental disclosure was paper-based. Universities and Governments were the largest aggregations of information, and they were the places you visited to get information.
But today, with the Internet, human beings have potential access to information without physical limits and it is that potential that must be enshrined in law as a basic human right. Every human being on the planet should have the right to access information freely and without threat of harm. Like Free Speech, that right should be defended even when the content of information accessed are heinous and injurious to some. Any society or nation without the Freedom of Information as a basic human right is a place that can be controlled and manipulated.
According to Human Rights Watch, there are 40 nations around the world that restrict access to the Internet or Social Networks. Many of these nations also block satellite TV and other forms of communication. But even in Western Democracies, Information Access is controlled by cost, technology barriers, labor protections, and secrecy laws. Even the most advanced nations have huge regions without access to the Internet. And some nations now seek to tax content flowing over the Internet as a means to restrict trade and favor local providers.
This is not a question of commercial competition. This is a question of human progress. Where there are people unable to access information freely there are opportunities for oppression and abuse. Democracy and Freedom will not thrive or survive without the Freedom of Information. To be ill-informed and speak freely is a condition of intellectual slavery.
I believe that we must work to assert the Freedom of Information as a basic Human Right. It must be a 21st Century Goal to connect every human being on the planet to high quality trusted information. There should be no technical, political, cultural, or economic barriers to Information.
It should be as easy as air and as cheap as water, taken for granted and governed by statute in every nation around the world.
On March 22-23, Information Governance Community Members will meet in Asheville, North Carolina to conduct a Maturity Model Workshop. We will use the Maturity Model to self-assess our capabilities. But if you can't make it to Asheville, join us on-line as we broadcast the Workshop live so you can participate
Information Governance Maturity Model Workshop:
USA Toll-Free: 888-426-6840
USA Caller Paid: 215-861-6239
South Africa Toll-Free 0800-983-687
Participant Code: 7888897
You can follow our progress on the phone, see the presentations in a webex, and perform your own Maturity Model Self-Assessment at www.infogovcommunity.com. Its a lot more fun doing it together with your peers.
There will be a webmeeting for this presentation:
1. Go to the URL - http://www.webdialogs.com
2. Click 'Join a Meeting' button in the top right corner of the page
3. Enter the Conference ID: 3208928
4. Enter your name and email address
5. Click the 'Log In' button
The moderators, times, and descriptions of each section follow.
Metadata: Amy Pfaff, TIAA-CREF
Self-Assessing Information Governance Maturity
Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 @ 2:30pm ET
Classification and Metadata is fundamental in any information related initiative. It is the connection between abstract data
(business processes, rules and concepts) and the people who use it to meet their goals and objectives. The Metadata Category
Reflects both the capabilities and tools surrounding metadata and the ease with which information can be used and understood.
Data Architecture: Tim Enten, Wells/Wachovia
Self-Assessing Information Governance Maturity
Date: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 @ 4:00pm ET
Data Architecture is the foundation of any solid data governance program. As an organization progresses through Data
Architecture a number of specific goals and benefits will be accomplished on an enterprise-wide basis:
1. Alignment between business and technology
2. Adherence to architecture standards
3. Data is viewed and leveraged as a common asset across the enterprise
Data Quality: Bill Haase, Logic Trends
Self-Assessing Information Governance Maturity
Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 @ 9:00am ET
As businesses move toward data-driven decision-making, Data Quality becomes paramount to the ability to succeed.
The improvements outlined in the transitional layers between each stage involve additional value creators to the core business.
As an organization matures through the levels, the following objectives become attainable:
* Enterprise measurement of the quality, classification, and value of the data being provided
* Data quality metrics become core to business processes
* Data issues are easily addressed via strong lineage and stewardship
* Data quality becomes integrated into organization's culture, business, and technology processes.
Organizational Structures and Awareness: Steven Adler, IBM
Self-Assessing Information Governance Maturity
Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 @ 11:30am ET
The objectives of organizational awareness around data governance are:
* Build a team approach to data architecture, stewardship, and self-governance across the enterprise including all business areas and IT.
* Define data architecture and stewardship roles, responsibilities, and interrelationships.
* Integrate Data Quality, Security, Privacy, Risk, and Value methodologies into repeatable assessments and processes
* Leverage Information, policies, and compliance to change organizational behavior
Tune in. Take part. Contribute and Learn with your peers. That's what our Community is all about.
To register, call 1-800-368-1157 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
IBM has been at the forefront of the Information Governance movement since the formation of the IBM Data Governance Council in early 2005. For the past six years we've worked closely with industry-leading companies from around the world to tackle the biggest challenges associated with governance.
Around the world, our clients are at varying stages of recognizing the necessity of Information Governance and implementing guidelines, standards, and policies. If your or others at your company have started conversations on this topic, then this event is for you!
We would like to invite you, and 2 of your colleagues who are information stakeholders in your company, to participate in a workshop that will help you build an effective information Governance program:
- Define your needs
- Benchmark your organizational maturity
- Define your organizational structures, methodologies, and tools
- Develop new insights and build a system for information Governance
In this hands-on workshop, participants will be taken through four of the Information Governance capabilities, and asked to rank their organizations according to maturity level defined in the Information Governance Maturity Model. All rankings are confidential and you can take home what you start and complete it later with your colleagues at your convenience.
Who should attend:
- CIO and senior IT Exectuvies
- Business Analysts and subject matter experts
- Executives involved in compliance and data protection
- Data or Information Stewards, Directors of Data Governance, and Data Architects
- Consultants and IBM Business Partners
The goal of this workshop is to educate and improve. Participants will meet other practitioners and gain valuable insights through comparative discussions of common challenges. New insights will be shared with the global information Governance Community, inspiring new ideas and topics.
I hope to see you there. IBM Information Governance Workshop
My aunt Helen had an opinion on everything. She was an information junkie long before the Internet, consuming at least three newspapers a day and watching untold hours of news television. If she didn't know about an issue directly, she had enough reference points to issue an authoritative opinion. I spent many weekends in her ancient Cheshire farmhouse with the musket holes in the foundation to protect against indian raids and the secret spot behind the fireplace where slaves hid in the 1850's Freedom Railroad on their way north to Canada. Dusty newspapers from the 1960's clogged the front staircase that was never used. Every National Geographic since 1940 sat piled in closets and behind sofas. Photos and postcards sat in boxes everywhere. Nothing got thrown away. Even the dust had dust. Her home was a database, and her brain was the ultimate computational instrument, an informational repository without parallel in our family.
Helen's knowledge of the world seemed to extend way beyond the bounds of her 1730 home. When I was young, I sat in awe of her voluminous and expansive mind never daring to question or challenge any of her positions. But as I grew into adolescence I began wondering if some her statements weren't maybe a little made up, or at least extrapolations of things she knew into things she thought she knew or could know with just a little imagination. But woe to you if you challenged her without some backup because she sure did know a lot and her mind was so sharp you could be reduced to blabbering in a microsecond if you really didn't do your homework and researched a topic.
But when I got to about 20, attending college - the place you went to get important information before Google put it on our smartphones in the subway - I started to learn that lots of what Helen said wasn't quite the way she said it. It wasn't that it was completely wrong, its just that it wasn't really always black and white the way she presented it. There were lots of different ways you could see and interpret the information. And you could construct a perfectly valid and well thought out argument that tied her up in intellectual knots. And back at the farm that summer we had some great arguments. Fact is, Helen was often at least partially right and wrong about a lot of things. Not philosophically wrong, because that's a matter of belief.
Factually in error, but never in doubt.
Her conviction was the secret of her intellectual strength. We've all known people like Helen, and many of you who know me are probably already murmuring "ahh, that's where he got that..." But I didn't bring up this point to wax about my family heritage or personality. I brought it up because this characteristic is one we find every day in our organizations, in the newspapers, on the web, in our governments. People develop points of view and stick to them, and getting people to see beyond their point of view is really a challenge. It isn't that the information is wrong, its that the people interpret it the way they see the world.
Information itself is a human creation. The computer didn't put it there. It isn't immutable, dirty until cleaned, chaste, pure, imperfect until perfected. It is a reflection of us, and since we created it, its sometimes wrong or the truth is at best a mixed result.
But what's to blame for that? Your Metadata? Your Business Glossary? Data Architecture? Security & Privacy? Audit? Your Organization?
YES! All of the above. Everyone who creates and uses information is involved in its interpretation and implementation. You don't have to be a data architect to influence the way information is used in an organization. Any iPhone or Android user has a role in the information management today. Bloggers, vloggers, and photographers shape and shade their creations to effect a mood, sell a product, influence an outcome. Everyone with a data connection is a source and a target and we all must accept responsibility for how we govern the use of OUR information.
Those consultants who tell you how to "govern the data" with all those tools are not helping anyone but themselves. Tools like Business Glossaries, Metadata workbenches, Master Data Management, Data Quality Profiling, and Audit help us understand when our information is out-dated, inaccurate, partially true, or just plain boulder-dash. We use those tools to illuminate the dark corners where opinions and habits force difficult debates to unlock the truth because we know that Information is the only tool we have to change behavior.
Want to succeed with Information Governance. Get Aware. Know what's happening and share it. Use your Information Governance tools to build operational awareness.
People will change their opinions when confronted with a solid argument, and that's what you want - Change from Information.
Fact is, I learned a lot from my aunt Helen and I still hear her voice strong as ever. Sometimes wrong, never in doubt.
The Winter Solstice is the time for Data Governance Predictions. And here are mine for 2011:
1. Systemic Risk Councils will proliferate. The Dodd-Frank Bill established a Systemic Risk Council in the Federal Government to aggregate financial data from across the economy to detect patterns of exposure that can impact macro-economic policy. All Financial regulated entities should follow the leader and do this themselves. Some, like JPMC and Goldman Sachs already do this. Everyone who is not doing it should get on the wagon and replicate.
The Federal Government will take eons to gather all the data and make sense of it. And even if they do it, their will be political considerations with regards to how the data is used and disclosed. And forget about counter-cyclical policy-making. So if you want your firm to escape financial ruin in the next Sub-prime, Sovereign Debt, Greek, Irish, Portuguese, or Spanish Debt Crisis, go and get a Risk Council and start sifting the data yourselves. Processors and storage are cheap, data is widely available, what you need is the organizational structure, decision-making system, and a sound Data Governance program. Get it going now, because with all the debt the world has accumulated there will be many more crises to predict.
2. Health care will join the Information Revolution - Today, many doctors use the Internet to look up symptoms, anatomy, and, of course, pharmaceutical remedies. Yet as an industry, there are so few information resources that document the comparative performance of doctors and hospitals in how they treat patients and the results. In 2011, thanks to US health care reform, this will start to change and I foresee a nationwide movement to aggregate vast amounts of health care data to analyze and report on what works, what hurts, and start building plans to make care more efficient and more effective so that people live longer. Data Governance will play a huge role in this effort, which will start next year and consume the next decade.
3. National Incident Detection - Like it or not, the days of the Internet Wild West are numbered. While the new Republican Leadership in the House is opposed to the Net Neutrality Bill, it seems certain that some form of national security oversight over Internet incidents and threats is going to happen. The government has been trying to corral business into sharing incident information since 9/11 and I predict they will succeed at some point because nation-sponsored cyber-warfare can not be resisted by private enterprise alone. In some as yet to be determined form, new information sharing regimes will need to be designed that aggregate threat information from businesses across the nation to develop early warning systems and protect national Internet assets.
4. Self-Governing Commons - Human beings can, in fact, govern the use of common resources more efficiently than hierarchical or proprietary solutions. The Information Governance Community is a demonstration of this fact, and in 2011, similar demonstrations will proliferate around the world and Social Networking itself will mature into online meeting places where people do more than talk - they will govern themselves to produce common work products. An aggregation of people without a deliverable is a media channel. Those same people collaborating on common ideas to produce work are self-ruling corporations and this phenomena will change how people are organized around the world. Any idea or project can be accomplished by self-organizing groups of people with common interests, a governance model, and an incentive structure designed to produce an outcome to effect change.
Five years ago, we formed a Data Governance Council to change organizational behavior and effect change. Achieving Semantic Consistency, Data Quality, Single Views of the Truth, Trusted Information, and Security & Privacy are all IT goals necessary to achieving any one of the above Predictions. Information is changing the world and with information we can change ourselves. However, without Governance, all we have is Data Management and none of what I described above is possible.
Last week I watched a video clip from President Obama's Town Hall meeting in which Velma Hart, a former Obama supporter living in Maryland, told the President about her disappointment with the lack of change since he took office. She told the President she had voted for change and things haven't changed. He responded by telling her about some aspects of the Healthcare Bill and Credit Card reform that have changed. The contrast between voter Macro expectation and Leader Micro response was fascinating.
People around the Country are today unhappy with the 18% real unemployment rate, the spiraling deficit, and many feel they voted for change that they aren't getting.
Obama for his part has a problem that confronts every organization implementing change - even the largest policy initiatives have only incremental impacts and the benefits only accrue over extended periods of time.
But you can't sell that to voters or corporate executives. No one buys incremental progress (even if that's far better than the incremental deficiencies we all are used to living with).
Every organization involved in Governance faces this dilemma - either build a business case for rapid improvement and explain incremental progress later, or train your organization to understand, measure, and report incremental progress and be happy with it.
The latter is quite hard to do, completely impossible without technology that constantly reports the problems you are trying to fix and how your program is solving them.
You can watch how the former unfolds in this year's Congressional elections and decide for yourselves which way you want to go.
The IBM Information Governance Council Maturity Model is a model you
use when you don’t know what IG is. Its purpose is to encourage people
to start a program by learning the basics. That purpose remains
extremely valid. If you want to deliver trusted information to make smarter business decisions, this is a great resource.
But we want to build IG into all the projects that people do today
without IG - like getting to know your customers, mining data for
insights, protecting it from abuse, calculating operational risk, etc.
These are real world problems that companies solve today well and more
often not so well.
Often, people have to get things done today with fewer resources than they had yesterday and the best anyone can do is make the problem go away NOW. Information Governance in these solutions are an afterthought at best and therefore the outcomes are only sustainable
for a short time.
In this presentation, I am proposing that our Community work on
building Information Governance new maturity models based on the
business outcomes organizations commonly seek. By building these new
models with the wisdom we already have, we can help advance Information
Governance as a business enabler that helps every IT-based project
achieve sustainable results.
And that creates a business case for measuring maturity more often
and will help make our Community the go-to resource for the latest
know-how, thought leadership, and solutions.
I am sharing this presentation in advance to give the Community time to absorb it and respond with comments and ideas. If you want to comment, please join the Information Governance Community and post your comments to www.infogovcommunity.com. The ideas we generate in Tamaya will be broadcast live on this site and your comments will be incorporated into the meeting topics.
This is a flash file.
Smart Governance Forum Introduction
Today, we the global Information Governance Community are announcing that we are publishing the Data Governance Council Maturity Model under an open source copyright (for non-commercial purposes) on a website called www.infogovcommunity.com.
The purpose of the website and the publication is to invite the world to participate in a crowdsourcing project to involve thousands of Information Governance practitioners from around the world and help the global community to update the Maturity Model and broaden the definition of Information Governance.
The site is powered by Chaordix, a fantastic company to work with. We've been working together in a two-month beta test of crowdsourcing in which the Council reviewed the site and submitted ideas each week which Chaordix took and implemented. What you see today is a product of Community interaction and technology.
Take a tour. On this site, you can interact with peers from around the world in the time and timezone most convenient to you. You can use the Maturity Model to self-assess your organization's capabilities, work on topics to define Best Practices, and establish your credentials as a leader in the growing international market known as Information Governance.
Check out the leaderboard, where the best and brightest can see how their ideas are recognized by the community, or the blog where longer ideas are published to inspire insight and discussion. Infogovcommunity.com brings together Information Governance and Social Networking to inspire innovation for the common good.
The site is brought to you buy IBM but supported by the Community for the Community with a self-funding subscription model. Starting on September 1st, Community members will pay $299/year for individual membership and $699/year for corporate membership to cover the yearly costs of maintaining the site.
Boston is America's most European City. Sorry San Francisco. Hills and Fog are not a substitute for Culture and History. The scale of Boston, with its rivers, sea, beaches just beyond the harbor, and easy access to fields, forests, and farms on the periphery make if feel like Hamburg or Stockholm. I've been to Boston a dozen times, but most often for just a day. I know Logan very well. Last week, I discovered Boston for more than a day.
A great city! Who knew nice people lived in a civilized city North of New York?! <mock sarcasm>
On Tuesday, we drove up from NY and discovered that Boston is a six hour drive up during rush hour and a 4 hour drive back before. On Wednesday, I was a speaker at the MIT Information Quality Industry Symposium
in an afternoon session lasting 40 minutes. I arrived a lunch and found the event starting just after in a square building on Amherst Street on the Cambridge campus. About a hundred people filled a large tiered classroom. Many familiar faces and some old friends. We traded "what's up" stories in the lobby on low black sofas while chowing on salty sandwiches and chips. The US Army was the keynote speaker and some army chaps were in the lobby talking about Army things. Data Governance Aficionados were comparing the US Army to the British Army, who had just won a Data Governance Best Practice Award at the Wilshire Conference in San Diego last month.
Funny coincidence...all ideas are derivative...
My presentation was about www.infogovcommunity.com
and The Six Easy Steps to Smart Governance
and it was very well received. I like to present. Doesn't matter what mood I'm in before I stand up I always step up about three steps higher when I start talking. Its the audience that feeds me. Not the adoration, center of attention. I need the feedback. Every time I present I learn something new from the audience and its that interaction that makes presentations so much fun for me.
On Wednesday, my audience gave fantastic feedback and it took me all weekend to process what I learned. Information is a Tool.
Wow. I can't tell you how many "Information is an Asset" presentations I've sat through where some IT Architect is trying to persuade the audience and herself that Information is an Asset with a value that can automagically be calculated. Someone out there is working on fantastic formulas that will produce THE ULTIMATE INFORMATION ROI CALCULATION and win a Nobel Prize.
Ain't gonna happen. Here's why:
1. Value is dependent on price. Information has a value when there is a pricing mechanism and a market in which it buyers and sellers can interact. Movies, Music, News, and Software are all examples of INFORMATION that is sold with prices in markets. Economists have already developed pricing formulas for consumer behavior in markets. Cobb-Douglas Utility Theory captures these interactions nicely. In a market, both buyer and seller benefit so outcomes are equal.
2. Corporations have no internal markets. IT professionals are mostly eager to assign value to Information because Applications and Information are the primary work products of their lives and they want their life work to have meaning beyond their jobs and paycheck. But without internal markets for buyers and sellers to establish pricing mechanisms, Corporations can't assign anything but abstract values to information.
3. IT uses Unit Cost of Labor (Thank You Karl Marx) to assign the value of IT work products. The Unit Cost of Labor identifies the human contribution to value creation. Information is an Asynchronous Asset and it doesn't have to be right to be valuable.
IT professionals are so hopelessly enamored with "The Single Source of Truth." IT is a belief system but that doesn't mean that verified information is always valuable.
Fact is, quite often lies are just as valuable. Two examples:
1. In the old days, The Department of Labor compiled monthly unemployment data based on the percentage of the workforce that wasn't working. That made sense. Unemployment means "people who want to work but can't find work." But in the 1990's the standard was changed to include only the people filing for unemployment benefits each month. This rate excludes members of the workforce that are working less than 20 hours a week, people who have stopped filing their weekly claim for unemployment benefits, the elderly, and those who have dropped out of the workforce entirely. So naturally, the new number is much lower than the old number. How low? The current rate of unemployed is 9.5%. However, if you include those working less than part-time, those who recently stopped filing for unemployment benefits, and those who dropped out of the workforce entirely the real rate of unemployment is 22%.
What's the difference? 9.5% is a recession. 22% is a depression. Information is a tool used by policymakers to achieve a goal and the outcome is not equal.
2. In May 2003, Ebay restated its earnings from 2000 and 2001 but didn't tell anyone
. It appears that someone in the accounting department "discovered" a $127 million loss both years and retroactively restated earnings. They hid the restatement in their SEC filings. From a "Single Source of Truth" perspective, one could argue that the restatement demonstrates the value of trusted information. But I don't think that's the truth. I think the reporting of lower losses was a GOAL of ebay and the chart shows that the under-reporting had the effect of protecting the stock from significant declines during a recession. The truthful reporting of the losses during the bull market of 2003 had no negative impact on the stock. So it looks like ebay hid the truth when it benefited them and revealed the truth when it couldn't hurt them.
And who could blame them... after all using Information as a Tool to achieve policy goals is the whole point of Governance.
And this is where I say to my IT friends that you won't be successful with Data Governance if you don't give up the hopelessly naive belief that a single source of the truth is a the goal of Data Governance. Data Governance is a Business Process
The Goal of Data Governance is to achieve business goals - cutting costs, improving revenue, reducing risk. As we've seen above, the information doesn't always have to be "right" to achieve these goals. That's why Data Governance is a business process and not an IT process.
Try to make Data Governance into an IT process like some sort of application development lifecycle and you will fail. Not because the process is wrong. Because the assumptions are wrong. Human Nature is at the Heart of it
This week, my wife and I visited the Bank. Its amazing how defensive retail bankers are these days when talking with their customers. And they should be! Money is free and these guys are charging nearly 5% for mortgages for the best rated buyers. But beyond the mortgage discussion, our friendly banker brought a good idea to us - Debit Cards for our teenage sons. It teaches them responsibility with money, he said, how to budget with what they have. And of course it gives the bank two new debit cards that earn small fees with every purchase, not to mention ATM fees at other banks... But of course, Debit Cards are fact of modern life and as much as we'd like to keep our kids kids and not indulge them in the consumer culture of America yet we need to be modern parents too.
So we brought the idea home during the Saturday BBQ dinner in the backyard. "We went to the bank today..." the conversation began. "And we are thinking about getting you both Debit Cards..." At the banking bit, my kids started paying more attention to their burgers than us. Banks are boring. But as soon as the Debit Card idea surfaced, WOW! My kids know what Debit Cards are - its a BENEFIT. As soon as the conversation turned to a BENEFIT for them, they were alert, animated, inquisitive. They wanted to know how would it work, when would they get money, how much, how often, what happens when the money runs out, where can they spend it, how do they get it?
How much was the big topic. Kids, all kids, are smart. They began negotiating from the getgo. My wife and I hadn't talked about how much, and they knew it. They wanted to hear what we were thinking. How much? Ben, the oldest, wanted to set the floor for negotiation. "Just what are you thinking?"
Net: When benefits are at stake in any discussion, negotiations are competitive and you have to arbitrate between self-interest and the common good. Because you can't afford how much the other party WANTS because WANTS are infinite.
That's where Governance comes in. You compare the situational needs of each party to sustainable goals of the program and you make a decision. Based on the goals. In a business process. With Six Steps.
Information is a Tool. When you use it its an asset for YOU. Not always for the other guy.
Thank you MIT.
Amazon has some Information Governance problems.
A week ago, I placed a large order of Nerf Guns that Amazon keeps refusing to process. My kids love these things and I guess some adults I know kind of like them too. We're all heading out to my sister's house in Point Reyes for Christmas this year and a combined Family Reunion. Both my sisters will be there with 7 kids in a medium-sized house for four days and the best we could all come up with to keep them occupied was felt-warfare among the tall grasses of the Inverness wetlands.
If only Amazon would cooperate.
I have no desire to carry ten Nerf weapons on trans-continental jets. I can see explaining to turgid DHS officials why a family of four needs automatic-nerf canons with heat-seeking velcro missiles. So, I prefer to order them online and let Fedex make the arms shipments discretely.
But my order is stuck in Amazon credit card limbo. It seems that the last time I bought something and shipped it to my sister instead of my home address I used a credit card which expired in May. Problem is, Amazon somehow associates that credit card with my sister's mailing address. I've deleted it in my online account, and I buy things from them all the time with the current card, but Amazon hasn't purged this relationship.
From an Information Governance perspective, what kind of problem is this? It is of course a Data Quality issue, but normal DQ tools might have a hard time with rules matching in this case. My gut is that Amazon just doesn't sweep and purge their accounts for outdated credit cards. Its pretty frustrating as a consumer, especially during these busy days. Some records management would solve that problem, but by now the point is moot for me. I just don't have the time or patience to bother fixing their sloppy Information Governance issues.
Fortunately, Walmart sells Nerf Guns too...
It is that simple.
You have supply chains that deliver toys from manufacturers in China to sit under Christmas trees in Canada, oil and gas from Russia to factories and homes in Germany, Diamonds from mines in Namibia to jewelers in New York.
Real World supply chains keep the global Industrial Economy running.
Alongside, you have Information Supply Chains that deliver crop yields to traders on the Chicago Mercantile exchange, raw video footage from journalists in Afghanistan to news desks London, Paris, and Atlanta, and sales performance reports from branch offices in Omaha to main offices in Arkansas.
Around the world, Information Supply Chains drive the Knowledge Economy.
They need to be Smart - Instrumented, Monitored, Measured, and Coordinated. And we need to be aware of when they are designed, what flows through them, and how we can improve them.
Without awareness, Governance itself can never be very Smart. It is that simple.
Data=Information=Knowledge. Or so we would like to say. In theory, data is unorganized information, and knowledge is information put to use by human beings. But theories are for academics. And this theory is super convenient if semantic consistency is important. There are Data Architects who only think about data in databases, Information and Content Architects who only work with unstructured repositories, and even Knowledge Architects who I suppose work with information taken out of human brains and put into... structured or unstructured repositories on computers...
In real life, in real companies, these are artificial distinctions. Organizations want to control data/information supply chains because they are full of quality control problems, security vulnerabilities, compliance challenges, and operational exposures. Those risks imperil decision-making, increase operational costs, and reduce revenue opportunities. Quality control and risk mitigation are challenges for every data type.
Five years ago, "Data Governance" seemed like a great name for a new discipline to help transform organizational behavior from vertical to horizontal; because information is transformational. What we meant then and mean now is not just about "Data" in the purest structured sense. We mean Data in the most plural and unlimited sense. People want to govern other people's use of all kinds of information in every form.
No data stovepipes please! We need Data Governance Solutions for all human uses of information regardless of their form or structure, use or abuse.
Anyone who tells you different is just so 20th Century...