Your governance team - which may be called an oversight, audit, or control team/tribe/group/function - will monitor and guide teams throughout your organization. The aim is to enable them to succeed by removing or at least reducing any barriers that they may experience, to motivate them to do “the right thing” for your organization and your customers, and to ensure that they remain compliant with appropriate legal regulations and guidance.
Governance typically addresses areas such as:
- The evolution and support of roles and responsibilities to streamline how people work together
- Definition of decision rights and decision-making processes to streamline interactions between people
- The evolution and support of common procedures and guidelines to ensure appropriate commonality of activities and artifacts
- The evolution and support of common guidance to motivate the efforts of teams across your organization
- Promotion of ethics and social responsibility
- Effective and timely investment to sustain and extend the organization over the long term
- The monitoring of activities to provide insight into their effectiveness
- Formation of a governing body that is responsible for guiding governance activities
- Definition of exceptions and escalation processes to streamline critical interactions
- Creation of a knowledge sharing strategy to grow individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole
- The support and monitoring of risk mitigation strategies across your organization
- Adoption of a reward and compensation structure to support the attraction and retention of excellent staff
- Strategies to share information throughout the organization
Disciplined Agile (DA) promotes a lean approach to governance. Lean governance is the leadership, organizational structures and streamlined processes to enable everyone to work together effectively in sustaining and extending the organization’s ability to produce meaningful value for its customers. There are several reasons why a lean governance strategy is important for your organization’s success. Lean governance strives to ensure that:
- Your organization’s investment is spent wisely. Organizations make investments in their people, in their infrastructure, and in their processes to enable them to better serve their customers (or in the case of government agencies, their citizens). From a financial point of view, your goals should be to regularly and consistently create real business value and to provide appropriate return on investment (ROI). To do this you must determine how you will execute your strategy by selecting and prioritizing the most valuable initiatives to undertake. You must also monitor these initiatives to ensure that they fulfill their promise, and if not then remediate them appropriately.
- Your teams are empowered to carry out their work. An important aspect of lean governance is to ensure that people and teams have the authority to fulfill their responsibilities. Many agile transformations run into trouble when the roles and responsibilities of people are not agreed upon, or when they are they are not properly supported by senior management. Another important strategy is to empower teams to choose their own way of working (WoW), to self-determine how they will work together, enabling them to tailor their approach to meet the needs of the situation that they face.
- People are motivated to work together effectively. There are two aspects to this. First, teams need to work effectively with their stakeholders. Second, teams also need to work effectively with their colleagues. To do this you must adopt processes and organizational structures that encourage people to collaborate together and to learn from one another.
- Risks are monitored and mitigated at appropriate organizational levels. Although addressing risk at the team-level is a good start it isn’t sufficient from an organizational point of view. Many small risks that are acceptable individually can add up to a very large risk for your organization. For example, one team using a new technology platform is an experiment. Fifty teams adopting that new platform at the same time is a significant risk if the platform proves to be problematic. Someone must be looking at risks from a portfolio perspective and guide teams accordingly.
- Your organizational ecosystem is sound. Your organization isn’t just a collection of teams. It is an ecosystem of teams working together, supported by culture, ways of working, organizational structures, and technologies. All aspects of your ecosystem need to be healthy for your organization to thrive.
- Everyone works in an open and collaborative manner. There are several ways that the DA tool kit promotes this. First, work is performed in an agile manner that is inherently open and collaborative. Second, all teams should present accurate and timely information to their stakeholders. For example, enterprise architects can make their work available to everyone, as can your portfolio management team, your data management team, and so on. Third, everyone should be motivated to learn more about your organization, its strategy, its values, and how you intend to work together to achieve the outcomes you’ve set out for yourselves.
- All of these things will continue to be true now and in the future. Lean governance balances your short-term and long-term needs. Too many organizations have allowed technical debt to grow in recent years, for the skills of their staff to stagnate, and to continue to tolerate traditional strategies that are well past their prime.
There are two fundamental reasons why individuals should be interested in lean governance:
- You’re being governed, like it or not. Regardless of the size or your organization, the length of time it’s been in operation, or the sector(s) in which you work, someone is keeping an eye on and guiding your overall efforts.
- You deserve to be governed effectively. Sadly, many governance strategies prove to be ineffective in practice due to application of traditional strategies and ways of thinking.