Lean Governance Strategies

Close collaboration

There are several strategies that you can adopt to promote a lean approach to governance. These strategies include:

  1. Empowered teams. Teams should have both the authority and responsibility to fulfill their mission. Agile teams should be allowed to be self organizing, the implication being that the team itself determines who will do what work (the team doesn’t have a manager telling them what to do).   Related to that the team should own their process, which is the agile way of saying that the team is allowed to determine how it will work together and as the team learns it will evolve the process that it follows – of course the team will be guided and constrained by your organization’s governance strategy.
  2. Enterprise awareness. One of the principles of the Disciplined Agile (DA) framework is that you should work in an enterprise aware manner. It is based on the observation that your team is only one of many teams, so therefore you need to consider the bigger picture when you’re working and do what is best for your organization, not just what is convenient for you. Promoting enterprise awareness throughout your organization is a fundamental enabler of lean governance.
  3. High-level roadmaps. High-level technology and business roadmaps, produced by your Enterprise Architecture and Product Management efforts respectively, will provide important guidance to your teams. These roadmaps capture the vision as to where your organization is heading, helping teams to understand what the overall vision is, to focus on what is important to your organization, and to help guide and constrain their decisions.
  4. Collaborative enterprise IT professionals. The DA framework includes several process blades, including Enterprise Architecture, Reuse Engineering, Data Management, and others that address enterprise level concerns. The people performing these activities should work closely with their customers, the delivery teams and stakeholders, in a collaborative and evolutionary manner. This promotes better governance for two reasons. First, by getting the vision, knowledge, and skills of the enterprise professionals into the hands of their customers it increases the chance that they work in a manner that is consistent to the needs of your organization. Second, the enterprise professionals want to get feedback from their customers and learn more about what their customers need from them. This enables them to be more effective at serving the enterprise and guiding their customers.
  5. Enterprise IT knowledge in teams. Although roadmaps and enterprise IT professionals collaborating with development teams help, it is far more effective to have people with enterprise knowledge embedded within the development teams. This is why we promote the idea that Architecture Owners (AOs) should not only work closely with the enterprise architects but should preferably be a member of the EA team. Similarly, Product Owners (POs) should either work closely with the product management team or preferably be a member of that team.   And it’s possible to do better than that – if team members are truly enterprise aware and are continuous learners, then it is reasonable to expect them to pick up enterprise knowledge over time. The more knowledgeable people are about their organization and its goals the less supervision/governance they will need.
  6. Automated dashboards. Automated dashboards, a strategy that we’ve referred to as development/operational/IT intelligence in the past, is a scalable form of information radiator. With just a bit of work you can take the information being generated by your tools and, using business intelligence (BI) technologies, populate team and even portfolio dashboards in real time. These dashboards provide important information that teams can use to manage themselves as well as governors to monitor what is happening within your organization. This enhances governance because when you get better quality information into people’s hands and they are more likely make better decisions.
  7. Defined roles and responsibilities. Defined roles and responsibilities help people to understand who does what, what are they are responsible for and when they need to collaborate with others. This is an important aspect of governance because critical guidance about how people will need to interact with one another.
  8. Defined organizational structure. You may choose to have a hierarchy of teams, a network of teams, a collection of circles (along the lines of holocracy), or combinations thereof. This is important to your governance efforts because people need to know what are the teams and how do they interrelate within your organization.
  9. Common guidance. Guidance – standards and guidelines – is important to your governance effort because it helps people to understand how they can develop consistent assets which in turn are easier to understand and evolve. Common development guidance includes coding standards, data naming conventions, user interface (UI) design guidelines, security standards, and more. This guidance should be straightforward, ideally be supported through automation, and collaboratively developed.
  10. IT governance team. People, typically senior people, are responsible for IT governance. The team, who is on it and what they do, should be defined and publicly known by those being governed. Everyone knows who the governors are and what they do, so that your governance strategy is open and transparent.

In the next blog posting in this series on governance we’ll overview the process goal diagram for IT governance.


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