Robert S. Seiner-KIK Consulting and Educational Services

An interesting topic came up in conversations I had with organizations twice this week. The topic was about senior leadership losing interest and what to do to prevent this from happening. Today, everybody seems  to be concerned about their management losing interest in something important to them.

Losing interest in something requires that there was interest in the first place. Getting senior leadership interested in something is another subject for another column.

We know that senior leadership is very interested in data management in general, and data governance is at a lot of companies. We are aware that there is also a lot of work to be done to gain senior leadership’s interest for many companies. If your company has a high level of interest, count yourself as being fortunate. If your company has senior leadership that understands why and how data management and governance are being executed in your company, count yourself as being super-fortunate.


Senior Leadership is typically a fan of “whatever it takes.”


The trick is not to keep your top management interested in managing data better and adopting data governance practices forever. The trick is to get them to understand:

1 •What data governance is

2 •Why it is required

3 •How it operates

4 •Results of their data being governed

The results can include better analytical capabilities, better protection of the data, more effective and more efficient operations through improved data flow and usage. More on that in a minute.

The trick is to get senior leadership interested long enough to get them to understand items one through three from the list above. Allow me to say that in a different way. We shouldn’t care if senior leadership loses interest in data governance once the program is effectively developed and deployed. Number four from above consists of the reporting of results of continuously having governed data. That will be all they want to see. They won’t care how you got there or how you are getting there.

Data practitioners know that getting there is more than half the fun. Or should I say getting there is more than half the challenge. Data governance programs should focus on achieving the following milestones as parts of “getting there”:

> Senior leadership support, sponsorship and understanding of data governance and the way that data governance will be executed in their company.

> Clearly defined and enforced accountability for the design, production and usage of data across their company.

> Appropriate resources that are accountable for facilitating and administering data governance across their organization.

> Clearly defined and executed goals, scope, objectives and rules of engagement that align with the mammoth projects and initiative being undertaken by their organization.

Every company wants to (or needs to) improve decision-making capabilities, improve their ability to plan, and learn to quickly react to changes in their market. Every company wants to protect their data and improve how data flows through their organization as a way of optimizing operations.

Achieving these results requires that data is paid its due respect. Data must play an important role in your company and must be at the front of people’s consciousness in how they complete their daily job no matter if that job includes defining, producing and/or using data. And everybody defines, produces and uses data in their job – especially in the age of big data analytics.

The results wild only be achieved with interest, hard work and intention. The intention is that data is managed as an asset for the company. To manage and govern the data requires that Senior Leadership support, sponsor and understand the steps that will be taken to govern the data. Basically, Senior leadership must be educated on the “how” upfront and the results for evermore.

Honestly, most companies do not need Senior leadership’s interest in data governance once the program is working. Senior leadership just wants to see the results. Chuck Noll, the Hall of Fame coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, publicly ranted about following a “whatever it takes” approach when they were winning many Super Bowls close together. Senior leadership is typically a fan of “whatever it takes.” Ask them.