Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Data Governance - An Executive Imperative

Trust! Kings have built empires on it. Generals have won un-winnable battles with it. CEO’s build their companies on it. You base Billion dollar decisions on the trusted input of your leadership teams. You make huge investments in marketing and public relations campaigns designed solely for the purpose of creating customer trust. It’s a powerful force. It can be the cornerstone of your empire or the Achilles heel of failure!

How do you decide where to place your trust, though? What do you do when you’re not sure? Do you guess? Do you go with your gut instinct? Many CEO’s report basing a significant number of key decisions on gut feel or a small number of factors because they don’t have sufficient trust; not in their advisors of course, but in the information used to make critical decisions. The human mind can only process seven to ten pieces of information at any one time. Most decisions CEO’s make require much more than seven to ten critical factors. As a CEO, you must trust your advisors to help process information and make good decisions. Success depends upon it.

However, with trust comes risk. Your advisors are using the same information you are. Do they all have the same perspective on the problem you’re trying to solve? Do they all have the same tools at their disposal? When you say “Net Revenue,” do they share your definition? How about the people they trust? How do they see the problem? Lurking behind every decision is a sea of facts, information and past experiences. We absorb that information to the best of our ability, draw conclusions and inferences and, eventually, make decisions. Unfortunately, facts are not always what they appear to be and while you trust those around you, do you trust the data they’re using to provide advice and guidance? Do they? Are they providing guidance based on their gut feel which is based on the gut feel of their trusted advisors?

Trust in your organization’s ability to provide you with good accurate facts on which to base decisions is a critical factor in your success. It must become an Executive Imperative to ensure that the information on which you base decisions is of the highest quality possible. We call this Data Governance and it’s not something CEO’s talk about. However, it is a core competency that every organization must develop if they are to maximize their competitive advantage in today’s market place. CEO’s sailing on instinct are likely to find themselves rounding Cape Horne in the middle of a perfect storm.

Every day your organization relegates the conversation of Data Governance to the IT break room, is a day of sailing without a solid grip on the rudder. The benefits of data governance transcend operational efficiencies and cost savings. Protecting and improving the integrity of the information on which you make key decisions will propel your organization to new levels of trust and agile decision making. It will allow you to transform the anarchy of disconnected operational functions into a cohesive trust-based team capable of delivering facts and analysis on which you can plot the fastest safest route to success. Data Governance creates trust. Trust creates success! Trust builds empires!

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