Guest Post: Looking backwards instead of forwards?

By Daragh O Brien
September 10, 2014
10min read

A Guest Post by Nicola Askham, the Data Governance Coach  –

A week or so ago my website was hacked and the person who supports that site for me and I have spent a considerable amount of time, effort and resource trying to resurrect it. It was particularly frustrating, not only that it happened, but also the timing of it. I had been working hard on a new website and had to stop work on that to focus on the old website!

After a few frustrating days it suddenly dawned on me that we were wasting our effort on trying to revive the old website. I should instead be focusing on completing and launching the new website and that is what I have been doing for the past week or so. Daragh kindly offered to host a blog post for me in the intervening period, hence this post.

Initially I drew a blank on what to actually write this blog about and then it occurred to me that there was a valuable analogy in what had happened regarding my websites and implementing data governance (sorry but I do frequently find analogies between real life and data governance!)

Often (and it’s something that I have been guilty of in the past) it is easy to get so focused on what you are doing, that you forget to take a step back and review whether what you are doing is working and even if it is working, whether it is worthwhile.

How many people after designing their data governance framework decide how they are going to implement it and then stick rigidly to that approach? To be honest that’s what I did in the early days of my data governance career. But I have learnt that it’s not always the right thing to stick rigidly to your plans and just work harder trying to overcome challenges.

Through experience I have found that you need to be flexible and pragmatic when implementing data governance. Even if your approach to implementing it was successful in one department or business area, it may not be in the next one. You need to ensure that you consider the different culture and challenges in different areas of your organisation and if the approach you are taking doesn’t initially work, consider that trying harder may not be the correct thing to do. Instead take time out to reflect on why it isn’t working and think of alternative ways to tackle the problem.

Instead of looking backwards, struggling on with your initial approach (or as I was, trying to keep my old website going) look for creative ways of going forwards. Even consider whether you need to achieve everything you thought you needed to in the timeframes, just as I did with my website. Initially I felt that I had to have a website in order to have a presence on the Internet and that there should be no period of time between switching over from the old to the new website. So we persevered trying to resurrect something that had a very limited shelf life! Then it occurred to me that perhaps my efforts would be better spent completing the new website ready for launch – after all I am contactable via email, LinkedIn and Twitter in the meantime.

Stopping and changing your approach can be scary, but it is much better to do that and get excited about a new approach, than to get bogged down trying to do something that just isn’t working. So if implementing your data governance framework is getting tough, don’t think that the answer is necessarily for you to get tougher!

Thanks again to Daragh for hosting this blog and I hope to welcome you all to my new website and blog in the next week or so.

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