Why “Governance” is Good

Lisa Welchman DG Blog

Thumbs up indicating that governance is good.

Colourful overlapping silhouettes of hands doing a thumbs up.

I’m often asked if I can find a more user-friendly word than
“governance.”

No, I can’t.

For many, the word “governance” conjures up an image of an
organizational strait jacket. Governance to them means forcing people to work in a small box or making everyone work the same way. They’d rather have me use words like “team building” or“collaboration model.” I usually refuse. Governance is good. And,after reading Managing Chaos and applying its guidance to your own organization, I hope you’ll agree. Governing doesn’t have to make business processes bureaucratic and ineffective. In fact, I’d argue that “bureaucratic and ineffective” describe how digital development works in your organizations right now—with no governance.

Governance is an enabler. It allows organizations to minimize some of the churn and uncertainty in development by clearly establishing accountability and decision-making authority for all matters digital. That doesn’t mean that the people who aren’t decision makers can’t provide input or offer new and innovative ideas. Rather, it means that at the end of the day, after all the information is considered, the organization clearly understands how decisions will be made about the digital portfolio.

There are many different ways to govern an organization’s digital presence effectively. Your job is to discover the way that works best for your digital team. Your digital governance framework should enable a dynamic that allows your organization to get its digital business done effectively—whether you’re a bleeding-edge online powerhouse or a global B-to-B with a bunch of slim “business card” websites. A good digital governance framework will establish a sort of digital development DNA that ensures that your digital presence evolves in a manner that is in harmony with your organization’s strategic objectives. A digital governance framework isn’t bureaucratic and ineffective. Properly designed, a digital governance framework can make your online business machine sing.

From Lisa Welchman, “The Basics of Digital Governance” in Managing Chaos: Digital Governance by Design (New York: Rosenfield Media, 2015), 9-10.