The Good, The Bad and The Governance
Written by Scott Williams
Organisations of any shape and size will need some level of governance. Unfortunately, that word has become associated with making sure other people are doing what they said they would, and creating a decision-making matrix that ultimately leads to people with impressive titles. Ever had to go through layers of hierarchy to get a decision for no reason other than you had to go through layers of hierarchy to get a decision? Me too.
What good governance should be is setting up a framework that enables people to make informed decisions on their own.
So what could that decision framework look like for your organisation? Instead of pushing things up the chain, what if the people in the chain push the mandate down to make our decisions:
- Experimental: Designed to test our riskiest assumptions
- Iterative: Implemented in small, value-delivering chunks that builds on previous work
- Human-Centred: Viewed from the customer’s perspective
- Collaborative: A team effort
- Holistic: Takes a systems-thinking approach
…and just for fun, tack on the expectation that you will just get on with it after you make that decision.
What do I mean by testing riskiest assumptions?
Let’s think about it this way: If you were to start doing something right now, are there any guesses you are making about which you have no supporting information? If you found out any of those guesses were wrong, would you stop? If the answer to the 2nd question is ‘yes’, then figure out a way to falsify those guesses before you spend a bunch of time and money doing that thing. By making our decisions experimental, we can prioritise what we need to know right now over what we can figure out later. That helps us to…
Implement what we want to do in small, value delivering chunks.
When we decide to do something, are we making a decision that determines what happens over the next 6 months, 9 months, 1 year? What if we made decisions that only affected the next 3 months, 1 month, 2 weeks? Would that make those decisions less risky and easier to make? And if we make sure what we do is always delivering some value to the target customer, we haven’t wasted our time if we decide not to do any more. A focus on iteration is something that allows us to…
View the problems we want to solve from the customer’s perspective.
It doesn’t matter how well your business case is written (mostly because they are a waste of time) if it focuses on the case for the business. None of the business goals we want to achieve will materialise unless we can make the case for the customer (would that be a Customer Case?). If we have evidence that the customer cares if we solve a problem, then we can use our collective creativity to find a solution. Of course, the best way to do that is to…
Make it a collaborative team effort.
I don’t mean consensus, by the way – how horrible would that be? I mean pulling in to the decision-making process a small group of advisors with different perspectives, backgrounds and opinions to challenge what is being done. It doesn’t matter what a colleague’s role is…think about who they are, how they think, and what they are interested in. Oh, and make sure they are willing to speak their mind. What you get are different perspectives to consider, and information that helps us…
Take an end-to-end view of what we want to achieve.
To further support a focus on the customer, we need to make sure everything we do covers the entire customer experience. If you are trying to improve one part of how a customer interacts with you and your products or services, you don’t want to make the interactions before or after it worse. We may be taking an iterative, experimental approach, but that doesn’t mean that the customer experience needs to be bad. We need to fight to make sure the opposite is true.
It can take a while to get comfortable with embedding this approach in to your day-to-day work, but it’s worth it, so don’t give up. The outcome will be faster, more informed decisions by the people best-placed to make them – and reduced impact if it turns out you were wrong.