The Fall Governance Classic

As I sit and watch the unbelievable talent during the World Series (even though my beloved Tampa Bay Rays didn’t make it to the fall classic), I can’t help but think of what it means to compete at that level.  Watching the flaming MPH indicator every time one of these pitchers throws above 95MPH (and how frequently they do so) is unreal.  Trying to hit a round ball off a round bat thrown at nearly 100MPH from only 60 feet 6 inches away is one of the hardest things to do in all of sports.  So, speed is surely the primary factor here – or is it?

Does anyone recall the name Steve Dalkowski?  He was considered perhaps the fastest pitcher in baseball history.  Though no radar guns were used to clock him during his career in the late 50’s to mid 60’s, it is estimated that he topped out between 120 and 125 MPH.  Yet, with all of that raw power, he won only 46 of the 236 games he started and never made it to the major leagues.  His unbelievable velocity produced 1,396 strikeouts in only 995 innings, but was almost equaled by his 1,354 walks.  A lack of control and unpredictable performance kept him from cracking into the big leagues.

So, what does this have to do with governance?  As companies strive toward greater agility, they often focus too much on speed alone.  Speed without control is destined for unpredictable performance. And, unpredictability is the enemy of agility.

It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but is it possible to govern your way to better business performance?   Governance is often associated with overhead and intrusive rules and rigor about how things should be done.  In short, it’s about control.  I can’t help but wonder where Dalkowski may have ended up had he learned to harness the power of his pitching arm and created a repeatable process for delivery – maybe right alongside Nolan Ryan?

The same holds true of your enterprise.  Predictable financial and business performance is rewarded by the financial markets.  Earnings estimates that are met are rewarded.  Miss expectations, and your stock price and investor confidence take a hit.

Control isn’t just about rules, policies, and procedures.  It’s about doing the right things at the right time to achieve maximum results.  The only way to gain effective control and ensure repeatability of performance is through governance.

If we take process governance and data governance together, we can make a strong argument that they provide the level of control, rigor and repeatability necessary for an organization to begin the journey to become the “agile enterprise” that all strive to be.  Doing the right things at the right time with the right information produces predictable business outcomes.  Taking it a step further, understanding the predictable nature of operational execution allows a company to change more rapidly to take advantage of newly emerging conditions and capitalize on situations as they arise.  This is akin to mixing in a change-up when a batter begins to time up your fast ball. Having confidence in your ability to execute promotes agility!

While it may be a sad statement that I still think of data governance, business process performance and managing data as an enterprise asset during a baseball game (in fact, during the World Series), it’s just the way I’m wired.  And, if you still think that performance is all about speed, watch a replay of Tim Wakefield’s 200th career win.

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