Data Governance needs Searchers, not Planners

In his book Everything Is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails Us, Duncan Watts explained that “plans fail, not because planners ignore common sense, but rather because they rely on their own common sense to reason about the behavior of people who are different from them.”

As development economist William Easterly explained, “A Planner thinks he already knows the answer; A Searcher admits he doesn’t know the answers in advance.  A Planner believes outsiders know enough to impose solutions; A Searcher believes only insiders have enough knowledge to find solutions, and that most solutions must be homegrown.”

I made a similar point in my post Data Governance and the Adjacent Possible.  Change management efforts are resisted when they impose new methods by emphasizing bad business and technical processes, as well as bad data-related employee behaviors, while ignoring unheralded processes and employees whose existing methods are preventing other problems from happening.

Demonstrating that some data governance policies reflect existing best practices reduces resistance to change by showing that the search for improvement was not limited to only searching for what is currently going wrong.

This is why data governance needs Searchers, not Planners.  A Planner thinks a framework provides all the answers; A Searcher knows a data governance framework is like a jigsaw puzzle.  A Planner believes outsiders (authorized by executive management) know enough to impose data governance solutions; A Searcher believes only insiders (united by collaboration) have enough knowledge to find the ingredients for data governance solutions, and a true commitment to change always comes from within.


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