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Kelle O'Neal

Thanks for joining our data conversation! This blog is an opportunity to share the real life challenges, opportunities and approaches to improving the quality and value of data in your organization. We will write about everything data related from translating "data" speak into "business" speak, to governance models, to the real differences among the myriad software tools available. But there's one catch: we all have to agree to toss out the fluff. That's right, no 30,000 foot, theoretical strategies that leave you wondering how to execute and actually improve performance. Visit regularly to learn from peers and partners on how they are managing and improving data, and we hope you'll also share your views and experiences.

About the author >

As Founder and Managing Partner of First San Francisco Partners, Kelle O’Neal manages specialist data governance and data management consulting services to complex organizations that deliver faster time to results. Kelle can be reached at kelle@firstsanfranciscopartners.com or through the First San Francisco Partners website.

Follow First San Francisco Partners on Twitter at @1stSanFrancsico.

Editor's Note: Find more articles and resources in Kelle's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel. Be sure to visit today!



Does it feel like you're just spinning your wheels when it comes to implementing data governance at your organization? 

If you find your organization repeatedly going through the process of initiating a data governance program or your efforts just seem to fall flat, let me share with you why success may be eluding your organization and what can be done about it.

People: The Chief Obstacles to Data Governance Success

Companies often blame poor data management infrastructure when a data governance implementation fails. In reality, while that can make it more difficult, it isn't usually the biggest obstacle to success. The greatest obstacles tend to be things like:
  • Competing priorities
  • Lack of resources
  • Data ownership and other territorial issues
  • Lack of cross-business unit coordination
  • Lack of data governance understanding
  • Resistance to change, transformation or accountability
  • Lack of executive sponsorship and buy-in
  • Lack of business justification
  • Inexperience with cross-functional initiatives
  • Personnel changes
The common thread running through all of these? People.

Implementation means change. A data governance implementation, in particular, involves changing your information management culture, processes and policies. It means asking people to change the way they think and behave about how data is accessed and used. And more often than not, it means diving into the unfamiliar or unknown.

If there is to be any chance of success with a data governance implementation, you must plan for and manage that change.

Employing Organizational Change Management for Governance Success

Change management is typically viewed as having two sides:
  • A situational/business side, which focuses on the who, what, when, where and why of the change
  • A psychological/people side, which addresses the reorientation people go through as they come to terms with their new situation
While the situational side of change management tends to be relatively easy to anticipate and plan for, the psychological side is more complex. However, for change to be successful, BOTH sides must be addressed.

Focusing on the psychological side, we can look to organizational change management for an organized and systematic approach to address the people side of change.

Organizational change management involves helping people through change quickly and successfully so that business value is achieved. It involves anticipating and observing individuals' reactions, proactively identifying and addressing problems and needs, and closely monitoring and responding to feedback so that change adoption can proceed smoothly and efficiently.

An organizational alignment action plan can be prepared in advance of change to provide guidance. This tool helps ensure:
  • Processes, practices and procedures are updated to reflect the new way of doing things
  • Roles and responsibilities are redefined or created in support of the changes
  • Performance goals and recognition/reward structures are realigned to encourage and reinforce the new behaviors and ways of working.
Success metrics will need to be defined and accepted. Strong leadership and sponsorship from key executives will also be important to encourage acceptance and buy-in.

Once transition is under way, pay attention to feedback and how people are reacting to the new requirements and respond accordingly. It will be important to hold people accountable so they don't slip back into old behaviors. But, be sure they have or can easily access needed resources and support, including training. Also, listen closely to any pushback occurring - what is it telling you? The pushback may be a source of new ideas or approaches in addressing the data governance program.

Successful transition will only be possible, however, if all of those involved in or impacted by the planned change have a full and clear understanding of exactly what's changing and what that means in terms of required behavior changes. It will be up to the organization in what may be one of its greatest challenges to effectively communicate that change and help people successfully navigate through it.

William Bridges, in his book, Managing Transitions, identifies "Four P's" to help guide companies in effectively communicating through transition. Adapting those to a data governance implementation, we have:
  • Purpose: Why the company is implementing data governance why it is important to the business and why it is important to the individuals in the organization
  • Picture:  What the future state will be once data governance is implemented
  • Plan: Actual steps and a timeline to get to the future state
  • Participation: What each individual's role will be both during the transition and once at the future state
Communication should start early and continue openly and frequently throughout the transition. Messages will need to be customized to stakeholder group impacted executives and managers will want a to have a broad understanding of governance changes and will require a different message than data stewards, owners and custodians who will need a deeper understanding of the changes to perform their jobs effectively.

Embedding Organizational Change Management for Governance Sustainability

As you progress in your data governance implementation, it is essential to go beyond just employing change management practices to get people from point A to point B - you must embed them into your company culture and operations. This will give your organization the greatest chance of achieving data governance success over the long haul.

Organizational Change Management.JPG
To sustain governance change, there must be alignment of:
  • Organizational structure/Sponsorship
  • People/Jobs/Accountability
  • Policies/Practices/Procedures
  • Incentives/Reward structures
  • Performance management
You'll want to assess whether the changes have become an integral part of the way in which your organization works and whether previously defined success metrics are being achieved. Then, as needed, identify and implement actions to reinforce changes.

Ultimately, the success of your data governance is in the hands of the people in your organization. But it is up to you to provide the guidance and support to enable them to navigate past the resistance and fear of the unknown and through the change to a successful program. 

Organizational change management provides an effective framework for managing all aspects of this change, and it allows your organization to have the greatest chance for data governance success and sustainability.


For more information on organizational change management for DG success, view these slides or watch this on-demand webinar (presented jointly with our partner, Pam Thomas, of IMCue Solutions).


Posted August 14, 2015 5:50 PM
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