Data Governance Frameworks are like Jigsaw Puzzles

Data Governance Jigsaw Puzzle.png

In a recent interview, Jill Dyché explained a common misconception, namely that a data governance framework is not a strategy.  “Unlike other strategic initiatives that involve IT,” Jill explained, “data governance needs to be designed.  The cultural factors, the workflow factors, the organizational structure, the ownership, the political factors, all need to be accounted for when you are designing a data governance roadmap.”

“People need a mental model, that is why everybody loves frameworks,” Jill continued.  “But they are not enough and I think the mistake that people make is that once they see a framework, rather than understanding its relevance to their organization, they will just adapt it and plaster it up on the whiteboard and show executives without any kind of context.  So they are already defeating the purpose of data governance, which is to make it work within the context of your business problems, not just have some kind of mental model that everybody can agree on, but is not really the basis for execution.”

“So it’s a really, really dangerous trend,” Jill cautioned, “that we see where people equate strategy with framework because strategy is really a series of collected actions that result in some execution — and that is exactly what data governance is.”

And in her excellent article Data Governance Next Practices: The 5 + 2 Model, Jill explained that data governance requires a deliberate design so that the entire organization can buy into a realistic execution plan, not just a sound bite.  As usual, I agree with Jill, since, in my experience, many people expect a data governance framework to provide eureka-like moments of insight.

In The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun debunked the myth of the eureka moment using the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle.

“When you put the last piece into place, is there anything special about that last piece or what you were wearing when you put it in?” Berkun asked.  “The only reason that last piece is significant is because of the other pieces you’d already put into place.  If you jumbled up the pieces a second time, any one of them could turn out to be the last, magical piece.”

“The magic feeling at the moment of insight, when the last piece falls into place,” Berkun explained, “is the reward for many hours (or years) of investment coming together.  In comparison to the simple action of fitting the puzzle piece into place, we feel the larger collective payoff of hundreds of pieces’ worth of work.”

Perhaps the myth of the data governance framework could also be debunked using the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle.

Data governance requires the coordination of a complex combination of a myriad of factors, including executive sponsorship, funding, decision rights, arbitration of conflicting priorities, policy definition, policy implementation, data quality remediation, data stewardship, business process optimization, technology enablement, change management — and many other puzzle pieces.

How could a data governance framework possibly predict how you will assemble the puzzle pieces?  Or how the puzzle pieces will fit together within your unique corporate culture?  Or which of the many aspects of data governance will turn out to be the last (or even the first) piece of the puzzle to fall into place in your organization?  And, of course, there is truly no last piece of the puzzle, since data governance is an ongoing program because the business world constantly gets jumbled up by change.

So, data governance frameworks are useful, but only if you realize that data governance frameworks are like jigsaw puzzles.

Total Information Risk Management

OCDQ Radio is an audio podcast about data quality and its related disciplines, produced and hosted by Jim Harris.

During this episode, I am joined by special guest Dr. Alexander Borek, the inventor of Total Information Risk Management (TIRM) and the leading expert on how to apply risk management principles to data management.  Dr. Borek is a frequent speaker at international information management conferences and author of many research articles covering a range of topics, including EIM, data quality, crowd sourcing, and IT business value.  In his current role at IBM, Dr. Borek applies data analytics to drive IBM’s worldwide corporate strategy.  Previously, he led a team at the University of Cambridge to develop the TIRM process and test it in a number of different industries.  He holds a PhD in engineering from the University of Cambridge.

This podcast discusses his book Total Information Risk Management: Maximizing the Value of Data and Information Assets, which is now available world-wide and is a must read for all data and information managers who want to understand and measure the implications of low quality data and information assets.  The book provides step by step instructions, along with illustrative examples from studies in many different industries, on how to implement total information risk management, which will help your organization:

  • Learn how to manage data and information for business value.
  • Create powerful and convincing business cases for all your data and information management, data governance, big data, data warehousing, business intelligence, and business analytics initiatives, projects, and programs.
  • Protect your organization from risks that arise through poor data and information assets.
  • Quantify the impact of having poor data and information.

 

Additional Listening Options:

 

Popular OCDQ Radio Episodes

Clicking on the link will take you to the episode’s blog post:

  • Demystifying Data Science — Guest Melinda Thielbar, a Ph.D. Statistician, discusses what a data scientist does and provides a straightforward explanation of key concepts such as signal-to-noise ratio, uncertainty, and correlation.
  • Data Quality and Big Data — Guest Tom Redman (aka the “Data Doc”) discusses Data Quality and Big Data, including if data quality matters less in larger data sets, and if statistical outliers represent business insights or data quality issues.
  • Demystifying Master Data Management — Guest John Owens explains the three types of data (Transaction, Domain, Master), the four master data entities (Party, Product, Location, Asset), and the Party-Role Relationship, which is where we find many of the terms commonly used to describe the Party master data entity (e.g., Customer, Supplier, Employee).
  • Data Governance Star Wars — Special Guests Rob Karel and Gwen Thomas joined this extended, and Star Wars themed, discussion about how to balance bureaucracy and business agility during the execution of data governance programs.
  • The Johari Window of Data Quality — Guest Martin Doyle discusses helping people better understand their data and assess its business impacts, not just the negative impacts of bad data quality, but also the positive impacts of good data quality.
  • Data Profiling Early and Often — Guest James Standen discusses data profiling concepts and practices, and how bad data is often misunderstood and can be coaxed away from the dark side if you know how to approach it.
  • Studying Data Quality — Guest Gordon Hamilton discusses the key concepts from recommended data quality books, including those which he has implemented in his career as a data quality practitioner.

Measuring Data Quality for Ongoing Improvement

OCDQ Radio is an audio podcast about data quality and its related disciplines, produced and hosted by Jim Harris.

Listen to Laura Sebastian-Coleman, author of the book Measuring Data Quality for Ongoing Improvement: A Data Quality Assessment Framework, and I discuss bringing together a better understanding of what is represented in data, and how it is represented, with the expectations for use in order to improve the overall quality of data.  Our discussion also includes avoiding two common mistakes made when starting a data quality project, and defining five dimensions of data quality.

Laura Sebastian-Coleman has worked on data quality in large health care data warehouses since 2003.  She has implemented data quality metrics and reporting, launched and facilitated a data quality community, contributed to data consumer training programs, and has led efforts to establish data standards and to manage metadata.  In 2009, she led a group of analysts in developing the original Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF), which is the basis for her book.

Laura Sebastian-Coleman has delivered papers at MIT’s Information Quality Conferences and at conferences sponsored by the International Association for Information and Data Quality (IAIDQ) and the Data Governance Organization (DGO).  She holds IQCP (Information Quality Certified Professional) designation from IAIDQ, a Certificate in Information Quality from MIT, a B.A. in English and History from Franklin & Marshall College, and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Rochester.

 

Additional Listening Options:

 

Popular OCDQ Radio Episodes

Clicking on the link will take you to the episode’s blog post:

  • Demystifying Data Science — Guest Melinda Thielbar, a Ph.D. Statistician, discusses what a data scientist does and provides a straightforward explanation of key concepts such as signal-to-noise ratio, uncertainty, and correlation.
  • Data Quality and Big Data — Guest Tom Redman (aka the “Data Doc”) discusses Data Quality and Big Data, including if data quality matters less in larger data sets, and if statistical outliers represent business insights or data quality issues.
  • Demystifying Master Data Management — Guest John Owens explains the three types of data (Transaction, Domain, Master), the four master data entities (Party, Product, Location, Asset), and the Party-Role Relationship, which is where we find many of the terms commonly used to describe the Party master data entity (e.g., Customer, Supplier, Employee).
  • Data Governance Star Wars — Special Guests Rob Karel and Gwen Thomas joined this extended, and Star Wars themed, discussion about how to balance bureaucracy and business agility during the execution of data governance programs.
  • The Johari Window of Data Quality — Guest Martin Doyle discusses helping people better understand their data and assess its business impacts, not just the negative impacts of bad data quality, but also the positive impacts of good data quality.
  • Data Profiling Early and Often — Guest James Standen discusses data profiling concepts and practices, and how bad data is often misunderstood and can be coaxed away from the dark side if you know how to approach it.
  • Studying Data Quality — Guest Gordon Hamilton discusses the key concepts from recommended data quality books, including those which he has implemented in his career as a data quality practitioner.