• Data Governance
  • 07.28.20

Building a Collaborative Culture in Data Governance

  • by Vaughn K. Hopkins, Delaware State University and Henry Zheng, Ohio State University

In this installment on data governance, we discuss what it takes to build a collaborative data governance culture and why it is beneficial to the overall organization to help move its mission forward. 

To begin to define or build this type of culture, one must know what the core culture of the organization is. Ways to determine the core culture is to look at the mission and vision statements and the core values of the organization. Culture of any organization is normally driven by leadership and this will tell us what leadership values and rewards. As previously stated, data governance is a transformative and cultural change process that relies largely on the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders to be successful.

In the Dataversity blog, the author defines culture as a combination of shared values, beliefs, norms, and behaviors. She also uses a quote from the Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, CEO of GE and Ram Charan, “No worthwhile strategy can be planned without taking into account the organization’s ability to execute it,” and the ability to execute is tied to shared values, beliefs, company norms, and behaviors. A norm is how you do things in your organization, and behaviors are beliefs turned into action. How one sees culture at their organization will determine how this collaborative culture will be executed. Culture is an important component, but the data governance process needs to drive the culture and not the other way around. Culture should be the focus throughout the whole data governance process.

The author also discusses four types of organizational cultures: Cultivation, Collaboration, Control, and Competence. For this series, we will focus solely on the Collaborative culture. The Collaborative culture focuses on harmony and synergy as its key values. Diversity is a valued part of this as well. The focus of this culture is more on the cohesiveness of the group rather than on the individual. Loyalty is valued from both inside the company and from customers. As part of this culture, the members take pride and ownership in their team’s work. There can be challenges with this Collaborative culture. One is that it tends to be more focused on short-term needs. Data governance is a continuous process where results are monitored and modified if needed and is a long-term strategy rather than a short-term one.

The work of collaboration begins with establishing clear definitions and business terms across the organization through data definitions, data quality and compliance to data management policies, and standards for a specific data domain. The result will lead to building a collaborative data governance culture that will help foster greater communication and cooperation among Data Trustees, Data Stewards, and Data Custodians across the organization. This, in turn, encourages participation among everyone in the organization and allows everyone to be a part of the process. Data users are empowered and can leverage the data to help move the organization forward. When this happens, accountability can be assigned as it relates to the data assets of the organization and facilitates data to be used at its greatest potential.