If you talk to Governance practitioners, you will find that most believe or have realized that Governance is predominately a communication discipline. That is what I want to talk about in this blog entry. I touched on it in previous entries as we talked about what Governance is and ideas for how to go about governing, so now I thought I’d dive a little deeper into what I think of when I think about communication and how it relates to governance.
First off, I believe it helpful to view the program as a business within a business. This mind-set helps provide a perspective that everything the program does and delivers should ultimately benefit and be of value to the customer, otherwise they will stop “buying” and you will go out of business.
So, when I think of communications, I consider all interactions that the program has, or should have, with the consumer. This to me includes marketing, branding, educating, advising and informing of status and results.
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Marketing and branding focuses upon raising and keeping the awareness within the user community of what you offer (think of what you offer as products and services) – and how these offerings help the organization. The key here is to present things like rules, policies, controls, etc. as “enablers” for people that aid them in doing their job, not as restrictors that seem to merely get in the way. Admittedly no small feat, but necessary if you want to minimize the inclination to bypass these measures.
Educating and advising deals with helping people understand both what they are and how to use your offerings. Again, this needs to not only provide the “facts” on the offerings, but help them see how these offerings really benefit them in the long run. I also include the idea of reinforcement and reminders in this category. For this you could consider instituting a “reward system” of sorts to help people stay motivated on applying what they learned and abiding by the rules.
Informing of status and results is the on-going communications that keep the consumers apprised of both what you are working on as well as the successes and value of the offerings already in the field. This aspect is absolutely critical to the sustainability of the program, but is also the one that often falls by the way-side. One reason I think is because it requires constant and vigilant measuring – whether that be qualitative measurements like customer satisfaction surveys or more quantitative measurements like scoring the impact that a rule has on a business process. Without these continual reminders, progress updates and how the offerings are making a positive difference, it is all too easy for the program to lose its momentum and support.
This all sounds like a lot of work – and it is. It also requires a skill-set more often found in marketing folks versus technical analysts. Success therefore means either working closely with your communications department or ideally, having dedicated communications resources as part of the program. Either way, creating and executing a communication plan should be an integral part of the governance activities.
I mentioned measuring as a critical part of communications, obviously implying that monitoring and taking measurements is an essential aspect of a governance program as well. In my next blog post I will talk a bit about that, so until next time, thanks for reading!