What’s new in the world of non-invasive data governance? I am glad you asked. I participated in a couple of the question-and-answer sessions about Non-Invasive Data Governance as part of the promotion of my new two-day virtual live course and my involvement in a sold-out International Data Management Summit later this month.
FIT Academy and Nino Letteriello, posed some of the questions. Letteriello and FIT took the lead in translating my book, Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success (Technics Publications, 2014), into Italian. They are presently involved in translating the book into Spanish.
Additional questions were asked by Michele Iurillo as a promotion for my involvement in the Data Management Summit International. I will moderate a round-table focused on Data Governance, the heart of Data Management, on March 16th.
The two-day course on How to Build and Implement a Non-Invasive Data Governance Program is now available to businesses and associations around the world through KIKconsulting.com and our partners.
Tell us a little about your professional career
I have been working in the field of data governance as long as anybody in the industry and in the field of metadata management longer than many. I have transitioned from the corporate world, to the world of large consulting companies, to my independent business, KIK Consulting & Educational Services, in 2002.
My company focuses on data management solutions, education and training including the implementation of formal data governance programs, data stewardship, data strategies, and metadata catalogs. KIK has had the honor of assisting many notable organizations across many industries including finance, insurance, manufacturing, education, health sciences and government.
I published the book, Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success, in 2014. I am a regular educator through webinars and conferences world-wide.
I am also the publisher of an internationally recognized e-publication, The Data Administration Newsletter (TDAN.com), a twice monthly newsletter that includes articles, columns, features and blogs focused on the most important data-focused topics of the day. TDAN.com is celebrating its twenty-fifth year in 2021 and attracts over 50,000 visitors monthly.
Please give us a definition of data governance and explain why it is important for organizations today.
There are many definitions for the term “data governance”. My definition looks different than most people’s definitions. I consider data governance to be “the execution and enforcement of authority over the management of data and data-related assets.” I word my definition strongly and, to be honest, there are some people who do not like my definition very much because of how direct and strong it is .
I truly believe that at the end of the day, organizations must execute and enforce authority – meaning that there must be order to how data is managed and how tough decisions are made. People may not always agree with the decisions, even though the decision may be in the best interest of the organization.
What is the traditional approach to Data Governance?
I compare the traditional approach to an American movie called the Field of Dreams. In this movie, the main character builds a baseball field in the middle of his corn fields because he keeps hearing the words, “If you build it, he will come.” The person builds the field with the expectation that someone will come and play baseball on the field.
Many organizations build data governance programs and expect that people will gravitate toward the program. The thinking is that people will start to follow the program on their own and people will start behaving the appropriate way toward data. The program is built with the hopes that people will start to govern data. This only works part of the time.
Can you tell us how Data Governance can be “Non-Invasive”?
Data Governance can be non-invasive if people are recognized into the role of data steward based on their existing relationship to the data. People define, produce and use data as part of their everyday jobs. People automatically are stewards if they are held formally accountable for how they define, produce and use data. The main premise of being non-invasive is that the organization is already governing data (in some form) and the issue is that they are doing it informally, leading to inefficiency and ineffectiveness in how the data is being governed.
For example, people who use sensitive data are already expected to protect that data. The NIDG approach assure that these people know how data is classified, and that people follow the appropriate handling procedures for the entire data lifecycle. You are already governing but you can do it a lot better. We are not going to overwhelm you with new responsibilities that you should already have.
In your opinion, why do many organizations view data governance as a threat?
The easiest answer to that question is that almost everybody looks at governance like they look at government. People think that data governance has to be difficult, complex and bureaucratic, when the truth is that it does NOT have to be that way. People are already governing and being governed within organizations, but it is being done informally. Change is always scary, so when people hear that their data must be governed, their first thought turns to the idea that the discipline will be restricting and interfere with what they do. THAT is where the approach of non-invasive data governance comes into play.
A friend of mine told me once that we should not call the discipline “Data Governance” because the data will do what we tell it to do. He told me that we should call it “People Governance” because the discipline really focuses on how people behave when they define, produce and use data. If we can help people to take these actions in a way that benefits the organization without upsetting their productivity (actually increasing their productivity), they will be much more willing to accept data governance as a practice and be less threatened.
What are the main expected benefits for an organization that follows the “Non-Invasive” approach?
The main benefit is that organizations will not be starting from zero (absolutely no governance). Organizations must recognize that they already govern their data (to some degree) or their organization would not have any opportunity for success (and thus could never be as successful as they have been – even though there is room for improvement). Another benefit is that, by following the non-invasive approach to data governance, we are not immediately handing people more responsibility or accountability. We are actually holding people formally accountable for things that they are already accountable for. For example, people who use sensitive data as part of their job (PII, PHI, IP, …) are already responsible for protecting that data and they may have informally been taught the rules associated with protecting that data.
With the non-invasive approach, these people become thoroughly aware of the rules associated with protecting sensitive data and they are expected to follow the rules, even potentially being evaluated on how well they do. There are many benefits to the non-invasive approach including the fact that people are being told, “you are already doing this” and that governance will be applied to processes rather than redefining how people do things. There are many more reasons and benefits that come from Non-Invasive Data Governance. People should read the book or attend training on the subject to learn those reasons.
Who should be the person at the company who is most involved in implementing data governance and how can training facilitate the adoption of Data Governance?
Best practice indicates that SOMEBODY must have the responsibility for defining, developing, implementing, adjusting, maintaining, monitoring and evaluating the progress of the Data Governance program. Without having somebody to act in the role of the Data Governance Administrator or Lead, the program will be at risk immediately. So, without someone to steer the ship, you can expect to hit an iceberg or run aground in no time. That being said, the program must also reside SOMEWHERE in the organization. That place can be in a business area like Risk Management, Operations, Sales and Marketing, … or it can be located in IT (Information Technology,) as long as the program is not viewed as being an IT initiative, and only good for IT. This information is further discussed in the book and in the NIDG course.
To answer the second part of your question … the training, and reading the book, will help people to understand all aspects of staying non-invasive in the approach to data governance. This includes an introduction to the new Non-Invasive Data Governance framework (developed after the book was completed) that addresses all of the core components of data governance (data, roles, processes, communications, metrics and tools) from all of the organizational perspectives (executive, strategic, tactical, operation and support).
Training also addresses how to assess your organization’s readiness for developing a best practice Data Governance program. In addition, it’ll walk you through how to build a roadmap for success, how to define roles to match the culture of the organization, and how to build and deliver on a communication plan. After learning this, it will guide you through defining and completing a proof-of-concept initiative (crucial in a successful operationalizing of a program,) pitching the need for a formal program to senior leadership and convince stakeholders that the program is necessary, as well as many, many other topics.
I strongly suggest that people who are focusing on implementing formal Data Governance programs attend the two-day training. You will not be sorry you did; it will be time well spent, and the course itself will save you a lot of time and provide you with a lot of things to consider when building a program and expecting that your organization will adopt a data governance culture as a way of managing your data as a valuable asset.
What are you finding to be the biggest challenges organizations are facing?
These are difficult days for a lot of organizations. The global economy has been downshifted and many companies are struggling to keep their heads above water. The most pressing challenges, for many organizations, are the allocation of resources and finding it in their budget to invest in digital transformation, becoming data-centric and data literate. Most organizations know how important data and information is to their business but are stressed over how to improve their situation during these difficult times.
Do you think that most company’s cultures are acceptable to managing data in a different way?
Changing the culture of an organization is not an easy thing to do. That is one reason I feel as strongly as I do about the non-invasive approach to data governance. My approach focuses on getting people to be held accountable for what they do with data without handing them work that interferes with their day jobs.
Most cultures are acceptable to change; but often people need to be convinced that the changes will be good for them. Successful data governance and data management often require improved communications that includes appropriate messaging regarding the value that comes from becoming more data centric.
What are the most important challenges for CIO, CDO, CDO, CTO in 2021?
The biggest challenge for the C-suite is getting their arms around the enormity of their data landscape. The C-suite must recognize the value that will come from becoming more data literate and digitally efficient, and plan an effective strategy of the appropriate steps, in the appropriate order, to improve the situation now and for the future.
The discussion during your round table can go many directions. What do you expect from the members present in your panel?
I am looking forward to discussion with people who are changing their organization’s data culture to become formally governed and more data centric. I am hoping to share my successes and hear from the members of the panel where they are having success and where they are struggling. The community often shares great ideas that lead to successful outcomes and that is what I am looking forward to from this group.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Check out my book, Non-Invasive Data Governance: The Path of Least Resistance and Greatest Success, available through your favorite book sellers. NIDG is the industry’s most effective and least threatening approach to the formal discipline of governing data.
Please visit KIK Consulting & Educational Services – The Home of Non-Invasive Data Governance – to learn more about Mr. Seiner and the solutions his company provides.
Please visit The Data Administration Newsletter (TDAN.com) – published twice a month and in our twenty-fifth year of serving the data management community with thought-provoking articles, columns, features and blogs.
My monthly Real-World Data Governance webinar series, with Dataversity, has been taking place since 2012 addressing different aspects of successful data governance implementations.
KIK Consulting provides a two-day virtual live course titled How to Build & Implement a Non-Invasive Data Governance Program that is available for organizations and associations. The two-days are spent in intense facilitated sessions focused on productive decision-making about the direction of the organization’s program and how to achieve success.