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say it with moxy

The People of Data Governance

It’s about the PEOPLE

I can’t help myself, in the back of my head I hum the tune, “people, people who love people”. As I continue to support clients through their journey to updated methodologies for data governance, I continually find myself here: it’s about the people. I’m not surprised by the discovery; I’ve known it for a long time. It really doesn’t matter what you are talking about, it always comes down to the people. But here’s the rub: people are also what make it so darn hard!

Team meeting to discuss data governance frameworks

Breaking Down Data Governance Methods

Here are some of the key hallmarks for the people focused data governance methods that I think are critical:

· People first! Do not focus on the organizational hierarchy to achieve results

· Create permeable teams that adjust to the work

· Avoid hero mentality by focusing on enablement and scale-for-all; help people become better information consumers.

It’s not a coincidence that a few of these sound like Agile or DataOps related efforts. I believe in agile methods to get the job done, but the job itself is still done by the PEOPLE.

Time for a Change

There is no data governance without people. Managing the effort regardless of your theory on what and how it should be done, requires staffing. In my book (shameless plug) “Disrupting Data Governance", there is a lot of detail about what kind of roles and the type of people that can fill those roles, but for now, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to staffing your data governance efforts.

Consider a Switch

In the past the “active roles” in data governance were the stewards and analysts that lived and breathed in the data. The leaders and sponsors must take a more active role and the stewards and analysts should consider a more passive role. Now I don’t mean that the leaders and sponsors will facilitate sessions to determine the business definition of data, but what I do mean is the leaders must play an active role in understanding the risk and reward associated with using data, and framing that in terms of value and success criteria for the stewards and analysts.

People do the work, but people also must decide what success looks like long before you are asked “have you been successful”.

For more information on data governance literacy, data culture enablement, and data strategy, check out our free e-books!


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Separating out the “church and state” of data governance will help organizations focus on better and faster access to data.


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