Disciplined Agile

Governance Mindset

The mindset required to govern in a lean manner is very different than the traditional mindset. The following are key aspects of a lean governance mindset:

  1. Holistic governance. You want to enable lean, appropriate governance across all aspects of your organization. Rather than addressing individual functional governance areas, such as security governance, data governance, financial governance, and others separately you instead want to address them holistically.  When you address governance areas separately the individual governance strategies may be inconsistent and at odds with one another and they very often prove to be overly burdensome in total. Furthermore, the way that you govern an individual team or group must reflect their way of working (WoW) – an agile team should be governed in an agile manner, a serial team in a serial manner, and so on.
  2. Short- and long-term balance. Governance must balance short-term needs of enabling teams to achieve their outcomes with the long-term strategy of growing, enhancing, and protecting your organization.
  3. Protect the organization. An important aim of governance is to keep your organization safe, to address enterprise risks effectively.
  4. Motivation over management. Many of the people working for your organization are intellectual or highly-skilled workers, and as such generally don’t respond well to being told what to do. But they can be motivated, and once motivated will actively work on what they’ve been motivated to do. An aim of lean governance is to motivate people to do the “right thing”. One way to do this is to communicate very clearly what your organization is trying to achieve. Another way to motivate people is to ask tough questions such as: What value is there in doing that? What can we do to increase value? How can we eliminate waste in what we’re doing? and What will we learn by doing that?
  5. Enablement over audit. Psychology shows that people, when given the choice, will usually take the easy path. This tells us that if we want people to do something, or to work in a given manner, then if we make it very easy to do so then they likely will. For example, if you want software developers to follow common coding conventions then provide easy to understand and straightforward guidelines. Better yet, provide code analysis tools that they can include in the continuous integration (CI) tooling that provides feedback that they can act on. The traditional approach would be to rely on code inspections or code audits to ensure that conventions were being followed. This approach is not onerous and thus less likely to be followed. Yes, you may still need to run the occasional audit, particularly when you’re working in a regulatory environment, but you should do so only as a last resort.
  6. Trust but verify. Agile is based on trust, but you still need to verify that the right thing is happening within your organization. Verification is enabled via radical transparency, which is the result of the DA mindset promise “Make all work and workflow visible.”
  7. Enable continual improvement

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