Governors govern

I've said it before on this blog a number of times but it bears repeating: governors govern.

This was brought on by email correspondence with a reader who asked about governors in the context of a restaurant analogy. I use "governor" and "governance" in the strict sense, as defined in ISO38500 and now COBIT 5: the governors are the owners or their delegates (the Board of Directors) of a private company, or the Minister or Secretary in government etc Governors dont do, they direct.

The manager of the restaurant decides how the steak is cooked. The owner (the governor) doesn't care less so long as the place is profitable and popular and meets hygiene regulations. The restaurant analogy gets shaky here as the owner often doubles as the manager: in this case he is wearing two hats, two roles at once. This causes problems for small businesses when it gets muddy. In larger organisations we try to keep governance and management distinct in most civilised countries except America where it is (or was) perfectly acceptable to be Chairman and CEO.

Some governance functions then get delegated, but the accountability always flows back to the top. And we need to stay clear on when we are performing a management or execution function, and when we are performing a delegated governance function. I was delighted to see Mark MacDonald at Gartner calling out the debasement of the word "manager", as I have done before as well. Let's not do the same to "governor". I dream of the day someone feels like an idiot for using the phrase "SharePoint governance" (again).

read ITIL 2011 Service Strategy 5.1.2-5.1.6
or the new COBIT 5, see Principle 5 (on p14, and all of Chapter 6)


Have a Beer?


What do you think of this Stafford Beer video as commentary on your governance definition?


Governance is a feedback

Governance is a feedback loop: direct, monitor, evaluate. But it is not the only feedback loop nor even the primary one. There are much tighter PDCA loops in management

makes sense to me.

Amongst other things, I'm "owner" of some ITSM processes. I guess this means I have delegated governance responsibility with my boss ultimately accountable.

I set & periodically review progress against some performance targets, try to remove cultural obstacles, approve the CSI roadmap(s) & prioritise what's in them. Process managers manage the work day-to-day and I try to mostly keep out of their way.

So far so good.

governance enablement

At some point down the delegation chain we cease tpo be doing governance, even delegated governance. hence my scorn of references to "SharePoint governance".

At some level, governance turns into what I call "governance enablement" or "plug and socket": doing the stuff to meet the requirements of governance:
- being directed: accepting and enforcing policy instead of setting it
- being monitored: providing the reporting data back to governance
- being evaluated: providing proposals and reports and being reviewed

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