Had great discuss with my friend Owen Allen, SharePointDirections.com last night that help me remember and crystalized some the concepts and principles I remember putting together when I developed the IT Governance in the mid-90s at Microsoft as part of establishing an internal Enterprise Architecture Practice. Some of the points I was making back then and today when I’m speaking at SharePoint Saturdays is about the difference between governance and enforcement.
Today most of the discussions around governance are addressing how to set permissions and access to sites. Who can access, who can update, who can delete. In my perspective, activities around setting these permissions are the enforcement end. The analogy is to say that the police govern us. As far as I know that isn’t the case. Police enforce the laws that the governance produces.
With that premise, the model I put forth to Microsoft back then was to use the US Constitution as a model for governance. Most of my peers back then were intrigued on how I would merge what they called politics with Information Technology. However, when you look at how businesses operate there are a lot of politics around setting strategy and operating agendas, so too with how to manage the I.T. function.
Questions like who should decide who has access? Where should money be invested? Who should information be managed? And how to make these decisions are all the real content of governance. The end result of putting together the systems and processes to support these types of decision-making is what I would call governance. When I proposed some of these structures, I was initially met with some skepticism and questions about complexity. My reply was look at how you handle money decisions in corporations, should information, the corporation’s means to control itself be managed any less seriously. Fast forward a few years Pete Weil releases his book on I.T. Governance confirming much of what I had proposed, but the effort remained a slide note in I.T. maturity. Enter the InforGlut, AIIM, SharePoint, Cloud, and other information management issues–despite the diversion of switching technologies; shared drives to project sites, on-premise to cloud, etc.- and now governance. As I continue outlining my chapters for my Enterprise Architecture book, the methods and tools I kept internal to my EA practice seem to be more important to codify and distribute in the coming months.
I’ll be at SharePoint 2011 October in Anaheim, the Sunday before, with friends and peers at what we’ve called a SharePoint Salon working to explore and codify these ideas