Four Reasons Organizations Hesitate to Improve Digital Governance

Lisa Welchman DG Blog

Woman standing inside of a fenced-off area.Reason One: The Transformation Is Too Hard

For organizations whose business model was established prior to the advent of the World Wide Web, deciding to change tried-and-true organizational decision-making and accountability norms can be highly political or destabilizing to human resources. Certain processes or standards for working may appear to be immutable when, in reality, there are other ways to work.

Reason Two: We’re Too Important to Fail

Sometimes organizations choose not to improve digital governance because they feel too important to fail. In these situations, there is often organizational hubris where organizational leadership feels that their legacy market position or some other level of clout leaves them impervious to the impact of digital—even in the face of real indicators that the organization might be at real risk.

Reason Three: We’re Too Profitable to Fail

In an environment where profit is adequate to satisfy executives and shareholders, there is often little incentive to improve anything because the business is profitable enough. Why rock the boat when the sea is calm? Not unlike organizations that see themselves as too important to fail, some businesses see the immediate integrity of the balance sheet as an indicator that digital has not yet hit their market sector. Or, more strongly, that digital may be irrelevant to their marketspace.

Reason Four: Difficult People

Occasionally, staff in an organization doesn’t want to point to governance problems because the cause of the governance problem includes a powerful or influential business unit. So, instead of pointing out how a particular digital stakeholder’s behavior is impacting the business in a negative way, they remain silent in order to remain non-confrontational (or in some instances to keep their jobs).

All too often, organizations of all types choose to ignore the call for sound governance, even when the state of their digital presence or the organizational risk created by a suboptimal digital presence all but demands that governance concerns be addressed.

From Lisa Welchman, “The Decision to Govern Well” in Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design (New York: Rosenfield Media, 2015), 144-149.