Dear Laura: Should I Leave My Data Governance Job?

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Read more about author Laura Madsen.

Welcome to the Dear Laura blog series! As I’ve been working to challenge the status quo on Data Governance – I get a lot of questions about how it will “really” work. I’ll be sharing these questions and answers via this DATAVERSITY® series. In 2019, I wrote the book “Disrupting Data Governance” because I firmly believe that poor Data Governance programs are getting in the way of data programs being as successful as possible.

Read the most recent blog posts in this series here and here.

“Dear Laura,

Here we go again. Budgets are tightening and one of the executives asked me in a meeting yesterday to help him understand why Data Governance is important – specifically, what value does it have to the organization. I honestly almost just got up and walked out (virtually) of the meeting. I had this vision of walking away and never uttering the words ‘Data Governance’ again. How do I keep coming back to this spot? Why do I always have to ‘prove it’?

Done in Denver”

Hello Done, 

It’s a heck of a spot, isn’t it? You’re not alone, though that may not help you right now. Of course, I can give you the advice that everyone gives: Focus on the “what’s in it for me” or “tell a good story” angle, and sure, you can do those things. If you haven’t done those things, do them now. But I’m guessing you have done those things.  

So, what’s my advice if you have done those things and you’re still back to this spot? Update your resume. Go out and look for a new role. Yep, you read that right: Time to go. Or, at least, time to look around. One of the benefits of being a consultant is that I see a lot of organizations and what they are doing (or not doing) with their Data Governance and Data Strategy work. I rarely feel like the grass is greener – it’s just grass. But sometimes, a comparative look around helps bring some perspective. Maybe it’s more than just a look around. Perhaps you find a role and an organization that fits, sees the value you bring, and you can feel that rush of a new challenge instead of the same old challenge. Sometimes you must do what you never imagined – you must leave.   

I know this sounds crazy, but it’s not always your job to convince your organization that Data Governance is important. If there’s not a modicum of understanding of the role Data Governance serves and you feel like you’ve done all you can, then it’s time to go because the fit just isn’t there. You know that song by Bonnie Raitt, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”? If you’re at that point where no matter what you do, you’re banging your head against a wall (different song). Leave.  

Too often, I see people hang on to Data Governance jobs because they see how critical they are to the organization. They see the risk and know without that last line of defense, the organization may very well experience big consequences. But consequences aren’t all bad. They may even help the organization learn a lesson. It also gives you a chance to work at an organization that really needs the skills you bring, that has learned the lessons, and is ready to invest.  

Are you really done? Did you do everything you know to do? Is the organization never going to get beyond demanding someone prove the value? Then take a deep breath and move on. If just the idea of leaving fills you with panic, that’s also your answer. Stay, because you have more work to do.


Do you have a question about Data Governance you’d like me to answer? Email me at Laura at moxyanalytics dot com.

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