Design Thinking to Put a Governance Model that Doesn’t Fail

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Click to learn more about author Tejasvi Addagada.

Fully understand the problem – The generalized challenges that Chief Data Office (CDO) face today, are a good starting point to understand the deeper problem. If an existing Governance Model does not seem to work, it is better to start understanding the core beliefs and values in the organization that affect the outcomes.

Define a Point of View – Further, comes an observation after watching, listening to, and understanding various people in data offices and the organization. The point of view below sums up the insights learned from CDOs, other people and their needs.

“Aligning a model that fits the culture of the organization while bridging the communication gaps, and reducing friction in mid and senior level management, to create consistent outcomes as well as a balance between control, accountability and management of data capabilities”

Focus on Possible Solutions – Having ideated with many chief data consultants, process and data owners along with grass-root employees through collaboration; the ideation is more about including certain culturally inclined processes and control in an operating model.

Listening to people does not end at this phase but can be emphasized more, from this phase.

Trying Out Multiple Solutions – Re-discover a model in many ways that can address the deeper problem. Define Variants of Centralized Service Model, Distributed Service Model and a Fusion Model. Further, the model can push or pull services across the organization based on the culture. The senior leaders can be data owners or the mid-level managers can manage their own data and share accountability with data office. The control can be centralized and distributed as well. A central services group can assist the needs of the distributed divisions or the divisions can solve their needs themselves. We cannot limit ourselves to one variant but need to churn out multiple options.

Test: Find the Best Solution that fits the need – A solution might not align immediately to the culture of your firm. Testing solutions has helped me learn about the target stakeholders as well as the alignment with their core beliefs. For instance, empowering mid-level managers in a conservative bank has reduced the friction in leadership while it also built a data-driven culture in grass roots. Standardizing the un-official communication channels including knowledge workers as Data SMEs or Co-owners has helped an Investment management firm. Now, they embrace shared accountability in owning the data and in enforcing data policy.

Similar to earlier stages where you have been empathizing, it is important to observe and listen to the people while the solution is being tested. You can listen to them on their changes in their attitude to the success of a governance program or to any increasing challenges with the new model.

Any phase of the design thinking process to create an operating model can be repeated or returned to as required. It is always not meant to be a linear, or a defined process, but promotes adaption to needs of a defined environment.

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