SharePoint Salon: I.T. and SharePoint Governace

Last night friends and colleagues gathered at the Hilton during the SharePoint 2011 conference in Anaheim for 2nd SharePoint Salon. During the event several topics were brought to the table to discuss. It was, as the last Salon, exhilarating to engage in exchanges of ideas and opinions. Many of the participants were just as passionate in their opinions and conversation engagement as I am.

The conversations while initially meant to focus on a few key issues in greater depth: I.T. and SharePoint Governance; Information Management/Taxonomy Creation; to name two. During the rolling conversation group members chimed in with various perspectives:

Owen Allen brought forth the question if governance is to be effective it has to be more than a single ten letter word meaning permissions. It needs to be divided into several more buckets. This generated an interesting discourse between the strategic and tactical sides of the issue. What is governance? From the tactical perspective or what End Users see, it appears as what I would label enforcement. “Just tell me what I can and cannot do” Susan Hanley,Essential SharePoint 2011, would say. I, taking what could be viewed as an opposing view, strongly advocated governance needs to be more than just the rules of the road. Having authored the framework for Microsoft’s I.T. in the mid to late 90s, put forth that the process of how and who makes those rules is the major part of governance which is often ignored in an effort to get to something practical that people can do.

I see the cause for shortcutting governance creation has a lot to do with domain expertise and knowledge boundary gaps. To build an effective I.T. or SharePoint governance two knowledge domains are needed or fused together; Business and Technology. During the mid-90s the Microsoft CIO put forth a vision of the organization being Business Technologists. The problem was then that most of the organization was populated by technologists and very few business oriented staff. As such the results of asking to put forth a governance from prior staff always resulted in a set of permissions or rules, not a process on how to actively determine, deploy, enforce, monitor and adjust those rules.

The model I put forward –which Peter Weil later described as one type of governance strategy in a brilliant book on IT Governance–is based on what I’m proud to credit America’s Framer’s work the United States Constitution. I spent several weeks translating governance of the country concepts to governance of Information in an Enterprise. This insight came to me years prior during my tenure at IBM as one of the underpinning concepts in an AIAA White Paper I presented “Enterprise Linguistics”. During that time I used discipline jargon in a lose analogy to languages throughout the world. Within an enterprise you have many countries: Executive Suite, Finance, Manufacturing, Engineering, IT, HR, etc. This aha had me relate these countries or states to a federated model that enabled local decisions within the local domain and central decisions at a central domain. [I am grateful to my high school social studies teacher, Mr. Frogue, for engaging me in several active discussions on governance decades ago. You never know what knowledge you’ll pick up and apply in the future]. That had me see the relationship between the constitution and I.T. management in a clear light.

Below, is a snapshot of the model presented years ago. Owen here is my suggestion for the buckets you seek.

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