Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen the importance of data governance grow across all industries. For some reason though, most people seem to associate data governance with a control function that conjures all sorts of associations of data policing, lack of agility, slow change, and more. Obviously, you need some degree of control to make data governance real, just like a police officer is a control mechanism for whether you are actually wearing your seatbelt (which is good for you) or respect stop signs (which is good for others as well as yourself). However, an often overlooked aspect of data governance is that it must also function as an enablementfunction because process creates peace of mind and actually gets things done when you are faced with a lot of stakeholders. It’s similar to how traffic lights and speed limits increase traffic flow for the whole system. There is good news for the fans (including myself) of the enablement view, as I have been getting questions about crowdsourcing data governance.
Crowdsourcing means that you “tap into the community:” everybody has equal and full rights as a data citizen and is encouraged to participate freely. And everybody – from the CEO down to thedata janitor – has self-service access to add key data elements, propose business metrics, flag a data type, request data sharing, and more. While this may sound wild, it has actually proven to be a very successful collaboration model that can lead to great outcomes (e.g., Wikipedia, Reddit, and Youtube). Powered by an enabling technology platform that includes appropriate clean and control tools (e.g., workflow, commenting, suggestions, machine learning, etc.) you can grow a very collaborative community including norms that provide a very resilient barrier against total chaos.
Before you jump on the crowdsource bandwagon
Now, do I believe that all organizations should go full crowdsource? No, just as I do not believe that the opposite is the solution. Every organization (and in more detail: departments, lines of business, project teams, etc.