How to Make Your Executives WANT Information Governance

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Of all the “soft” problems we see, making the organization want data governance is among the top three requests our customers have written between the lines of the RFP. Building a business case, business justification or roadmap may ignite the spark, but to make the organization really want it takes the whole package. Here are six simple things we find make the difference in transforming the dialogue for data, information and analytics into a desire for information governance.

1. Stop Being Boring!

Ok, you got me Mr./Mrs. Data Person. You know way more SAP table names than I can keep up with. I’ll just pretend to take this important phone call or be very late due to a meeting reminder that "never popped up". After all, I happen to know there won’t be a quiz on this stuff and that data aint goin nowhere, right? Wrong. Whether you are describing a problem within the data, the compilation of it into actionable information or the effects on analytics and processes, the discussion isn’t about the cog, it’s about the machine. Everyone cares about the how the machine runs. That’s what we all get paid for. Let’s start from the level of the audience and then work our way down to the cog not the other way around.

2. You Have 30 Seconds to Make Your Point, GO!

Like it or not, it’s important to sell the role information governance plays in the organization. Most important in selling that message is building trust that your efforts will be efficient and supportive of the business. This one point is where over-inflated expectations from selling FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) unravel. When you command the attention of the business, make it short, make it direct and you will find the response to be the same. If you take a long time to get to your point, then your supporters will be looking at their watches wondering why the urgent topic doesn’t seem to have any urgency in getting to the point.

3. Rotate Around The HOTTEST Thing 

Let’s make it simple here. Improved Operations, Trusted Insights, Compliance. Those are the primary outcomes organizations are looking for. Connect the most pressing need with the area of business focus (e.g. better leveraged spend, conflict minerals, process improvement, etc.), and you have something big for them to focus on that they really want and need.

4. Keep It Engaging

It’s not just about a good opener. The points need to maintain the attention of the business throughout various stages of the program. Consider your audience not just as names you already know but roles you will communicate through. After all they will talk with other people in similar roles, and they like to be engaging themselves among their peers. It’s hard to create a message that is engaging to all. That’s why we recommend you carefully consider your audience by role to recognize what the role should take away from a dialogue, and how that role should react as a result. If you are successful, you will be asked to repeat the narrative over and over again.

5. Make it Memorable and Personal

This is a great moment to reflect on the machine the enterprise is. What the machine produces is sometimes measured in smiles rather than units. Organizations that have a strong cause typically have a core set of outcomes to rally behind with a story that make valuing information relevant. Sometimes you have to use your own story too. In either case, the objective is to shift the balance on how “likeable” your segment of the cause is. The need to treat data as an asset and govern the information of the enterprise is not an option but a necessity to pursue the company strategy, mission and support the values. That is what you want them to hear.

6. Be Persistent & Commit to a Plan

Data Governance is a change management event. The first hurdle is to get your audience sold on the idea and then engaged to participate. Once you have their attention you should fight hard to keep it. We often hear from some of our most successful customers how they wish the first role they had brought on to their budding data management team was a marketing or communications role. In reality, many data management organizations need to operate out of existing structures so following through on the desire to have a dedicated communications role is less likely to happen. It does not make the need for constant selling and positioning go away and you will have to find someone in the organization who can play this role even if it is on top of their “real” job.

So how do you collect all these points to make it exciting, engaging, personal and memorable? Personality aside, it makes it a lot easier if you crowd-source the context of information value from across the enterprise using Information Value Management®. The organization can contextualize the information value for you making it easier to draw the conclusions that are salient points for your audience.

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