Agile Governance

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What is Agile Governance?

No, it’s not a term that I came up with, it has been around for a while and is meaningful with regard to implementing a governance structure.  Accenture defines it this way:

Agile governance requires you to find the right balance between the complete chaos of no governance at all and the smothering of all Agile benefits in overbearing governance

In a recent document I read there were a number of things mentioned with regard to the “Principles of IMT Governance Design” that are applicable to Agile Governance:

    • Avoid too much bureaucracy – minimize the number of levels
    • Simplicity and nimble – keep it simple, clear scope, and able to use time effectively

The Journal of Public Sector Management – Optimum – has a paper on IM/IT Governance Framework in which they state that a Governance Principle is:

The IM/IT governance process must be as simple and efficient as possible to ensure the maximum relevance and importance of informatics initiatives without unduly delaying initiation.

The MIT Sloan Management Review emphasizes the need for Agile Governance in the article “The Unexpected Benefits of Digital Transformation” when they state “The most valuable applications aren’t always known in advance”.  In an Agile Governance model with rapid turnaround for decision making these valuable applications can be discovered much more quickly in the value stream and more quickly utilized to their full advantage.

The Optimum article talks about how there are just two major committees – Management Committee and Information Management Committee – and that these two committees make all the decisions.  While there are other groups involved (Information Management Office, etc) the authority rests within the two major committees.   The process does not need to be onerous and it cannot be long.  Clear direction needs to be given to people in order for this to be effective.

But not just direction.  Another MIT Sloan Management Review article – A Matrix Approach to Designing IT Governancetalks about how Dow Corning was trying to make IT a strategic enabler instead of just a back-office function.

Once the full executive committee had entrenched IT as a key function, installed a capable CIO, and gained competence in articulating how IT should enable business strategy, ongoing IT governance responsibilities were assumed by a subset of executive committee members. The ability to reduce the size of the steering committee, indicated that Dow Corning had created sustainable senior management participation in high-level IT management

They made the steering committee smaller.  They reduced overhead, put in place people and processes, principles, and then let IT run with it.  They enabled IT.

Agile governance, when done well, reduces the overhead of governance while putting in place the people, processes and principles that will enable the organization to move forward quickly and with confidence that IT is enabling them to do so.

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