Thursday, June 7, 2007

Governance Without Goodwill is Dead

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OK. I may be pushing it. It may not be dead, but architectural Governance outside a framework of goodwill and mutual respect is a rugged road fraught with challenge, frustration, and diminished effectiveness.

When we form architecture teams and governance capabilities, it's wise to keep in mind that the average development community is a fairly cynical bunch. Truth be told, I count myself as a charter member of that fellowship. It's not that we're jaded or negative; in fact, I think it's a healthy sort of cynicism. Developers want to solve problems. They're wired that way. It's in their heart. Anything that appears to be a roadblock or speed bump on the way to solving a problem and delivering results triggers an instinctive, almost immunological response. That's a good thing, right? Developers who anticipate and overcome interference with goal accomplishment are the most sought after and highly prized. The most valuable developers are those who demonstrate the greatest skills at recognizing potential problems and circumnavigating.

Given this postulate, we can recognize the opportunity to take specific actions to ward against the natural immunological antibodies that, if left unfettered, would work to reject a "foreign" obstacle such as Governance. Fortunately, in this case, the solution seems to be one that passes the obviousness test. By recognizing the development community as important stakeholders of programs such as Governance and pursuing a model that appropriately balances potentially competing stakeholder needs (something good architects always do), we are able to engender goodwill and gain active support from the community at large.

Fundamentally, the solution lies in helping the development community understand the problems being addressed with programs such as Governance. By clearly articulating the business drivers - and like all good business requirements, these should be expressed in the problem space - we engage the teams' problem-solving energy and channel it in a constructive direction. Simply put, we point it at the designated target. When people understand where we're trying to go, they're inclined to be more supportive.

But it's not enough to simply "understand." It's also important to "believe." John Kotter talks about this as the need to "Increase the Sense of Urgency" in The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations. When expressing the business drivers that motivate Governance or other change initiatives, we're well served by establishing an emotional connection to the need for change. Kotter puts it like this, "Go after the emotions with concrete and almost smellable evidence, not just abstractions so favored by the rational mind. Use evidence you can see, not just words and numbers."

With this foundational understanding of the problem and why it must be solved, we can invite participation in the solution. By engaging the "right people," a sense of obligation and commitment is established on the inside of the community, and the people start saying, "We have a problem, and we must do something about it." I like to call this an "inside out" approach in contrast with the myriad less effective (but unfortunately more common) "outside in" techniques. When we come at it "inside out," we create goodwill (earnest hope that something will succeed) within the community that serves as a source of energy to motivate people toward the desired goal.

The “right people” are the key to unlocking goodwill, and it’s important to recognize they’re not necessarily the current senior management. Creating a Governance capability (or implementing any change of this type) is not a management activity. It's a creative activity that requires people with leadership skills who possess the expertise and credibility that is meaningful within the given community.

When you set out to create a Governance capability, be sure to include the development community among your list of influential stakeholders. Go out of your way to establish goodwill by working “inside out” with the “right people”. The rewards will be great.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks !! very helpful post!