Bringing sexy back to governance


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Oct 20th, 2012

You know that eye-rolling look you get whenever you start talking about project governance to people?

In the words of the character Josh (Tom Hanks) in the movie BIG: “I don’t get it”.

Done well, governance should be the grease in the wheels of efficient and effective business change; it should help us focus on the right ideas and easily prioritise them when we have too many; it should help us justify the case for change and prove whether it was the right thing to do afterwards; and finally, it should be able to intervene to put things right, postpone, or even cancel a project if it no longer makes sense.

How many of us can hand-on-heart truly say they work for an organisation where that’s what governance looks like?

In all too many organisations; governance has become a beast – a bloated, slow-moving, grumpy beast – and people do their best to avoid it or play the game to get through it.

Why is that? How did governance become a block for good ideas? How did it become a rubber-stamper, so long as the documentation is filled in right? When did gate meetings become a performance art? How did it become toothless in the face of all those projects that people know are doomed but would rather not tackle? And … for goodness sake … how did governance in some organisations grow to employ teams of people and become a business unit in its own right?

Scary stuff!

What has this got to do with business analysis, you may well ask?

In my view, good governance is at the heart of business analysis and good business analysis should be the core of governance.

Governance matters to us; whether we’re working in the pre-project space, helping write (or reverse-engineer) a business case, getting tied up for three weeks helping the project manager prepare for a gate meeting, or stuck in the long winter of a never-ending build project stage suffering from the lack of oversight?

In some cases, we can even be fortunate enough to get involved in designing how governance operates – after all, it is a business process and definitely needs optimising!

I say “fortunate enough”, because I have become passionate about governance being done right. Especially now that I am working as a consultant to BA practices! I’ve seen too many situations where the BA team has to bend to fit into a broken process; whereas we should be part of the solution rather than perpetuating the problem.

I want governance to become lighter, leaner, more agile, more focused on good decision-making and less focused on telling experienced practitioners in different disciplines what detailed steps they should take to do their own work.

In short, I want to bring sexy back to governance. If this sounds good to you or you want to learn more … come to my session on ’Fifty Shades of Governance’ at BA Development Day in Wellington (November 2012) or hit me up for a coffee in Auckland or Wellington (I love trim flat whites), and watch out for a follow-up blog post after the conference where I will be sharing the presentation with you as well.

Please note: this article was first published on, my employer at the time.

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