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
Belief systems are very powerful. Robert Garigue, one of my early Data Governance mentors, liked to say that IT applications are belief systems and the more I work in Data Governance the more I realize that every human construct, model, or framework is a belief system with its own ego and rigidity that blinds adherents to alternatives that could be more efficient.
Two examples: one political, the other organizational.
Vermont is about to embark on a single-payer healthcare model as the governor will soon sign a bill that will make that small state the first in the nation with a European health insurance model. In the national healthcare debate, the idea of a single payer systems was vilified by conservative Republicans who charged it would yield socialized medicine with rationed care, long wait lines, and people dying before treatment arrived. Many of the same Republicans are warning that Vermont will suffer a similar fate because their expectations of healthcare are intrinsically linked to their ideology and their use of selective experience in Canada and the UK.
Two points on this. Single payer eliminates administrative redundancy, which saves money and provides more efficient insurance coverage. That's the principal reason for adopting this model. Efficient health care is another matter. You can have an efficient single payment insurance model and a free-market provider model that provides efficient care and you can also have free market models that provide inefficient undesireable outcomes. Models themselves create rigid boundaries that, in their absolute adherence, distort desired outcomes around inefficient incentive models. That is, no belief system is perfect and has a right to unbridled adoption. Conservatives today like to argue that the free market is a natural and organic model of human activity and regulation creates unnatural distortions. But in markets, all things are never equal and information asymmetries produce inefficient outcomes for many market participants. Regulation evens the playing field, even with those regulations have socialistic aspects. The same is true for liberals in Europe who insist that social models produce more egalitarian outcomes than capitalism. Not always...
The second example is from Denmark, where the health care system has been single payer for decades. Danes pay for healthcare through taxes and never pay for treatment at the doctor or hospital. This creates an efficient billing system, but unfortunately the uniform fee structure did not create incentives for superior service. Waiting lines were very long for even acute conditions. A friend had gaulstones in 1996 and was told, despite her acute pain, that her condition was not urgent and she had to wait some 12 weeks for an operation slot. She went to her doctor ever day to complain until he finally relented and gave her an operation date a week later. But the long waits were not because the system was single payer. They were due to a lack of incentives and penalties to induce doctors to work harder and provide better treatment. This was addressed in the early 2000's when the Danish parliament passed legislation that allowed any Dane waiting longer than three weeks for treatment at a public hospital to seek care at one of Denmark's many private hospitals with expenses covered by the public hospital who was unable to provide the care. Its a brilliant piece of free market regulation added to "socialized medicine," that created incentives to improve care in public hospitals.
The point here is that no belief system can handle every exingency. Human beings respond to many kinds of incentives and penalties, and large complex governance systems need Dynamic Steering to modulate the incentive structure to provide the most efficient services.
I was on the phone with a client seeking Data governance advice recently and she asked, "Many in the Data Governance Industry advise on having both technical and business data stewards who look after both policy and compliance. What is your view? Should these people reside in the business or in IT? What will happen to us if we don't follow the industry norm."
I told them, "don't follow the lemmings..." Most people "in the Industry" are consultants who have never governed their own tongue let alone a real company. They fly in and perform a powerpoint, run a workshop, and sell their latest wisdom as gospel, a framework or a model. They have a huge amount of ego invested in whatever model they are selling because it is their claim to fame. But models and frameworks don't work. They are too rigid, belief systems with believers held back by best practices and use cases summarized to the point of easy communication and factual irrelevance. Best practices are rarely transferable from one institution to another. They neglect all the politics, sponsorship, favoritism, self-doubt, and dunb-luck involved in getting anything accomplished. Every company is unique because companies are made up of people with unique personalities and belief systems.
Be dynamic. Don't follow models rigidly. Adapt to circumstances. If you have great data stewards who work well in the business units, wonderful. If you have others that are more technical and can't function at that level, no problem. Go with what you can get done and don't worry about model orthodoxy.
Ideology and belief systems, incentives and penalties, work best when varied. Focus on the business outcomes you want to achieve - like efficient payment processing AND efficient care provisioning - and experiment with different tools to achieve those outcomes. Get fixated on following one model and you will soon find yourself in a long line of Lemmings running off a cliff.
In Europe, there is a proposal to tax Google, Yahoo, Apple, and others on the content they provide that passes over European Telecommunications networks. The Europeans complain that their networks are over-burdened with content that comes from the USA that they deliver to their subscribers and they want a cut of the action. They claim that the cost of upgrading their bandwidth, especially in France, Spain, Italy, and Eastern Europe, to keep up with content is so overwhelming that the content providers themselves should pay for the inconvenience. France calls it the "Google Tax." I call it extortion and fraud. Its bad policy for Europe and its bad policy for the Internet. In France, even though French Telecom has been deregulated, Alcatel-Lucent estimates that it will cost over 300 billion euros to upgrade the French broadband infrastructure to enable high-speed internet access for every French citizen. Other European Telecoms, also former monopolies, agree. Someone has to pay for this, why not the Americans?
Its their doing anyway, this Internet...
In France, where the "Google Tax" has already passed it already hurts French content providers more than Google because their content is taxed too and they only serve the local French market. Google, meanwhile, has a global market and only a small fraction of their revenues are effected in France. You have to love the irony...
By now, American readers are no doubt feeling quite superior since we haven't done anything as legislatively dumb yet. Don't.
Legislative stupidity is not the monopolistic right of Europe. In the United States we have the Protect IP Bill introduced by Senators Patric Leahy and Orin Hatch. This Bill allows the US Attorney General to shut down websites that are alleged to provide copyrighted materials or counterfeit goods. Apparently, current copyright laws which require copyright holders to demonstrate infringement in a court of law are insufficient to protect IP rights in the United States. What the Protect IP Bill does is remove the inconvenience of due process and allow the US government or any IP holder to demand an injunction or restraining order from a court to shutdown a website without a court case. This Bill is bad on so many grounds. The definitions of copyright infringement and counterfeiting are very loose. The lack of due process means any aggrieved party can use injunctions to shut down competition or ideas it wants repressed. And one person's piracy is another's business model.
Many organizations are using piracy for viral marketing.
Lets face it, with 2 billion people on-line today, people are producing a
lot of content. Anyone can write a book, produce a video, record a
song, post a blog and almost everyone does. With all that content,
getting noticed is very hard. And that's changing the business models
of content production. Those changes are organic to the development of
Information and Society.
The Protect IP Bill, if passed, would make it possible for political interests to allege copyright infringement on their ideas and shutdown opposing party websites. It would empower ugly forms of censorship more at home in countries we'd rather rid of censorship than show new examples. It is a huge step backwards and is as pernicious and wrong-headed as the "Google Tax."
Government should keep its uninformed fingers the Heck out of that development. On both sides of the Atlantic, taxing and shutting down content should be seen as dictatorial remedies that will do far more harm than good.
We the Internet Generation want the Freedom of Information to connect the 5 billion people not yet online with information unfettered and uncontrolled to illuminate the world. The legislative examples above represent darkness and we should all reject and fight against them.
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.
Fog. I thought we were in the clouds as the plane wheels hit the ground like a fighter jet landing on a carrier deck. Visibility was maybe three feet and the fog was so dense the plane parked on the tarmac and we were brought to the terminals in bright yellow buses. Kastrup is so efficient. Clean walnut parquet greets you as you climb up floors to reach the neatly organized passport control, where kind border control guards actually smile when you arrive at the window. In JFK they growl at you and treat you like a criminal begging for mercy to enter a dingy airport that feels more like a mid-50's bowling alleyl. In Copenhagen, the baggage is at the carousel when you arrive and the airport feels like a luxury shopping arcade. Mercedes taxis whisk you into the city, on a sleepy sunday when most of the city is just having brunch.
My hotel room isn't ready when I arrive, but I'm happy to have some hours to relax in Vesterbro and wander the empty streets as the fog burns off into early autumn sun drenched splendor. The grass is green, the trees are yellow and red, the sky is bright blue. It takes me two hours to adjust and remember the life I led when I called this city home for 5 years in the 1990's. Bicycles wiz by on their own lanes next to the sidewalks. Late 19th Century apartment buildings hide hip modern interiors. Small, heavily taxed cars conceal a standard living that is the envy of most other nations. What a remarkable governance experiment. High personal income taxes (top rate is 52%), VAT (25%), car tax (220%), and all manner of other taxes are balanced by very low corporate tax rates (26%) and a free labor market, yielding universal healthcare, excellent pensions, and free education through PhD. This country is a net oil exporter, thanks to lucrative North Sea oil platforms, yet produces 60% of its energy needs from wind, solar, and geothermal.
While America watched its bridges and roads deteriorate, Denmark built huge public works projects extending road and rail bridges to Sweden, Germany, and from Jutland to Zealand. They unified their rail system in Copenhagen, and deployed high speed rail to Hamburg and Stockholm. They made Kastrup into the logistical hub of Scandinavia, linking the Nordic countries to the EU mainland. It is a remarkable little country, and this week the weather is also wonderful.
I'm here to speak at a conference - IBM Software Group Day. I'm in a Global Services track and have 35 minutes to go through some dense Data Governance content. The conference site is a mile from my hotel and I love the walk through Vesterbro, along many sleezy streets west of the Main Train Station that today feel quite a bit better than they were a decade ago when I lived nearby. The conference venue is an old slaughterhouse, now filled with 1200 IBM customers, and some fantastic art works on the walls. The conference organization is fantastic, and everything seems to run as efficiently as the rest of Denmark. My session is just after lunch, and my slides suffer some strange powerpoint virus which mixes them up just short of delivery. But the audience is wonderful and we had a great time going through the discussion. Somehow I finish on time, which is rare, and get some great questions after.
Enclosed is what I presented. Its similar to the SIMposium 2010 deck with two new use cases. They worked well in Copenhagen and I have plans for something even better at IOD: Copenhagen SWG Day Presentation
The rest of the week is full of customer meetings, but every day I'm here I'm reminded of the life I once lived in Denmark and the part of me that that lies dormant the rest of my life when I'm not here. Its the casualty of international travel, that you learn not only great things about the places you visit but also what you learn about yourself that is only evident when you are there again.
On Tuesday, I gave a keynote presentation at SIMposium 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. It was on the last day of a conference at 8:15am. On the best of days, I'm not a great morning person. The last day of a conference is not normally the best of days for a presentation. Normally, at least half the participants are in taxis on the way to the airport and the other half are often exhausted from the content and discussions on the earlier days. When I was first asked to speak, I was not inclined to do it. Keynote or not, 8:15 on the last day felt like a bad proposition.
I could not have been more wrong. First, the room, and it was a huge ballroom, was full with about 300 people. Second, they were awake, animated, and fantastic to talk to. We had a great conversation together, and I completely enjoyed the interaction.
Third, they were not the normal Data Governance crowd. In fact, when I asked how many had Data Governance programs at the start of my presentation not one hand went up. This is the kind of group I love talking to and they are the ones we most need to reach.
SIMposium, thank you for an excellent experience. Many have since requested my presentation and here it is in Flash format. Just click on the link below and it will launch in your browser.
SIMposium 2010: Change is Not Just a Word
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.
Data Governance isn't a new word for the same old stuff. If your organization isn't achieving sustainable results from your data and information management projects, Data Governance can help. But you'll need to do more than just adopt a new name. You'll need to do something far harder - you will need to change how you work and how your IT systems work.
This isn't easy. Best practices, Maturity Models, and Starter's guides can help. But at the end of the day if you don't change, everything stays the same and the results are desultory and predictable.
I meet a lot of people who ask me about the Data Governance products or roadmaps organizations should buy. The best products you can buy are the ones that tell you what you don't already know. To govern effectively, you need to know what's going on in the context to when it is happening, what it means, and how it relates to other things. Governance without awareness is a dictatorship of ignorance - people make decisions in their comfort zones because they don't know any better and don't know that they don't know any better either.
OK, nice words Adler but what does that really look like? It looks like Android.
Last week I switched from an iPhone 3GS to a Samsung Galaxy S. Lots of reasons behind the switch, a primary motivator for me is that Android is based on Linux, which in turn is based on the collective contributions of a global community coordinating their ideas for the common good. I like that, and I like Android because as a mobile operating system it integrates lots of disparate applications to provide me with useful information when I need to know it.
Example: Boingo. Boingo is a wifi service that works in some 80,000 airports, hotels, and other hotspots around the world. You pay a monthly service to Boingo to connect for "free" in these hotspots. Very hand for a global traveler. On the Iphone, you have an app but you have to first connect with the iPhone to a local hotspot and then see if Boingo works there. This is an example of the old, industrial model of application development. A single application developed for a singe purpose that the operator has to initialize.
In Android, Boingo is integrated into the wifi backbone of the phone and the information notification system. As I drive around my neighborhood, the phone alerts me automatically when I enter a Boingo hotspot and can connect. It tells me what I don't know and helps me take advantage of services I may need. It is intelligent and by sharing information it offers me new opportunities. It gives me content and context, when I know I need it and when I don't.
That's the point of Data Governance. You need to learn what you don't know and help others to benefit from that information. You need to enable and empower new information sharing technologies and methodologies. Include the excluded, bring in the outliers, benefit from diverse points of view and find new solutions to age old problems that have befuddled and bemoaned your organization for decades. You can't warm over the same old stuff and call it Data Governance. You can't govern data, manage information or knowledge because these things are inert.
But you can govern people and empower their decision-making with trusted information and insight about what's going on every day that they don't already know. Because with knowledge, human beings can change their behavior and that's what Data Governance is all about - changing organizational behavior.
This isn't a small thing. This is a very big thing. Its about the influence of Information on organizational structures, how corporations change how they work in an Information driven transformation. This change isn't coming from within. We aren't transforming organizations with information. My god, if that were the case we would have succeeded decades ago with the first mainframes. What's happening today is that our organizations are being confronted with the change of billions of new sources of autonomous information production we don't control. This is the mass of humanity communicating with each other over the Internet with the speed of now and the intimacy of a small village.
We aren't transforming with information we are being transformed by information, and this is a wave of change we are either riding or drowning in.
Newspapers, Magazines, Music and Movie production are already being replaced by global and autonomous information distribution. Not everywhere, not all at once. But even the strongest brands feel the pressure and are adapting to change. In the beginning they will change their models of distribution. Soon after, they will change models of work.
Industrial models of organization - Thomas Gradgrind and the repitive drudgery of assemblyline work, the process controls and enslaving stopwatch measurements of efficiency - these last vestiges of the way we worked in the latter 19th and 20th Centuries hold on in our organizations like a virus resisting antibiotics. There are power structures invested in these models, and they will continue to hold on for some time yet to come.
But you need to ask yourselves. Where do you want to be working, in the past or in the future? Riding on the wave or under it?
Change isn't just a word. Data Governance isn't an option.
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