Governance - The Rules, The Practices, The Processes

This week we took on the topic of Governance. How to regulate an organisation and assess how effectively the organisation as a whole achieves it’s goals.

The most interesting thing for me coming out of the topic was the understanding of governance as not just a document or an organisation chart or some other arbitrary information about an organisation. But as a process through which what that information (document) states is analysed, measured and assessed. Relationships between teams, between individuals need to be looked at, practices and processes need to be there to ensure the governance is adhered to and not just used as a smoke screen, management practices need to be up to scratch and ensuring the governance is working in a positive manner.

In terms of outsourcing/offshoring, there is the notion of a sweet spot by which the governance allows the different expectations of a client and vendor to be beneficial to both, a hybrid collective mode of organising. But it is also important to take that no one arrangement will work for all cases, it needs to be specific for each arrangement. It also needs to be measured and if done properly can help enable a trusting relationship. It’s also important though to understand that what can be measured may not be important, what’s important might not always be measurable.

What can we govern? This was a really interesting part of the class whereby we hit upon lots of suggestions that didn’t really get at the core of governance itself. Lot of generic answers abound around the room, but none of them hit on the point of needing to analyse the rules that people follow in order to ensure a procedure takes place and that procedure leads to the outcome that the governance requires. What is put in place to ensure control is in place to lead to a desired outcome? EG: an org chart is an empty vessel, it is not governance. It depends on the social and substantial, in the minds, attitudes and culture of the people working within the org, in happenings that you observe.

Some more interesting topics we then went on to discuss:

  • Service Level Agreements
    • Need to monitor it, how do you measure it? Who is doing it? When measured? When to decide if its failed
  • Measuring models should be able to show red flags, it’s about learning and informing about risk, no punishment mechanisms
  • RAG (Red Amber Green) system - a focus on the exceptions, again no victimisation, a lot data may be subjective and not mechanical, don’t over engineer
  • Globally Distributed Teams
    • Can’t rely on conventional methods of control, comms, collaboration
    • Relies heavily on direct interpersonal communication, despite not being face to face

Social / knowledge management is hidden, can’t measure, things we want and need to share but can’t measure.


Donal Rafferty

Forever learning, Software Engineer, CoderDojo mentor, Smurfit Business School student, Photographer

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