CMSWire recently hosted a piece with the provocative title, “Goodbye Governance, We Don’t Need You Any More.”

We are at a critical turning point with the consumerisation of IT.  The digital workplace isn’t just about the technology that is available, but also the skills that the people have to leverage the technology that is available.  The sky’s the limit, but if everyone attempts to fly to the sun without governance there are bound to be more Icarus’ than Wright Brothers.

As I read the article on CMSWire it made me think of frontier time and all the potential that someone could gain by moving out to the west with hopes of finding “gold in them thar hills.”  With the digital tools at our disposal there is definitely good available, but there is also danger with cybercriminals who want to steal pii, corporate information or infect your system with malware.  Governance provides a safety net to keep data safe and organizations in compliance.  Without governance we are headed to the Wild Wild West

Staying with the frontier times analogy, governance allows for a unified digital front as transformation happens.  Information is a company’s most critical asset and if departments within an organization hoard information they can impede the progress of other departments.  Governance facilitates different groups to best leverage tools for information to be used uniformally across the board instead of clogging up bandwidth or not making the most current and accurate versions of information available.  In frontier times a family was weakened when someone left the family to go out west to look for gold and with digital transformation an organization can be weakened when innovations is attempted without the oversight of governance.

Governance is not the enemy of innovation.  A key part of digital transformation is digital disruption.  Not everyone survives the disruption to reap the benefits of transformation which is why governance is needed in the digital transformation process.

 Martyn Perks  (author of the article) makes the point that governance is too much about the restraints that have been placed on the digital workplace.  Restraints are not a bad thing.  If there was no speed limit there would be more accidents on the highway.  If there was no governance there would be more mishandling of data and misfiled records (the statistics on the time spent wasted looking for information that wasn’t categorized properly is staggering).  It is in boundaries that we often find true freedom.

An excellent point that I think that Perks make is that with all the talk of the need of governance needing C-suite support it can often fail to account for how people work.

unlike a governance team with a clearly laid out agenda, this approach is all about balancing out business strategy with what’s happening ‘on the ground.’

The people you choose as managers must be prepared to walk-the-talk and engage with staff (wherever they may be), rather than hiding away in the safety of your HQ tower behind a desk full of policies that start with the words “Thou shall not ….”

If governance is all about “Thou shall not” and not empowering people to become more efficient with information and work more productively and use tools that are available to connect with others than we are need to reconsider how are doing governance.  The misconception about governance is that it’s records management 2.0, but governance is more than that and if it’s all about compliance, security or records management and not getting a competitive advantage from information, processes and how people use technology to leverage the two then we have governance all wrong.