The American experiment began with early settlers enduring hardship and uncertainty. They built a life based upon hope and the faith to endure. In time, they evolved into societies that thrived in a new wilderness because members stuck together, helped each other, and applied what they learned along their journey. Governance bodies were established in early colonies and were essential to survival during challenges by putting the communities’ perseverance into action. They stood strong, evolved smartly, and grew into a nation that became the leader of the world.
Many organizations dream no less, but nonetheless fall short of fulfillment. The differentiator between vision and realization is the discipline of planning. Failure to plan is a plan to fail, and so many do. Even those that plan often don’t plan enough or don’t orchestrate their planning well enough. The world is complex, organizations are full of specialized staff, and people themselves are complicated. Successful organizations recognize they must act on their vision before others, be decisive, and make a difference in the communities they serve, while also being mindful of their challenging environment and the context within which they are judged. This takes a coordinated planning approach.
Notice the pyramid on the one dollar bill. Governance is its base. Principles in the US Constitution of all me created equal along with those of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness guide governance. We organize our government into departments just like we compartment our technology into a catalog of service areas to help execute solutions that address the mission our principles compel us to complete. Yet we see our government not progressing toward a destination, but rather governing change. Our principles are steadfast, but our journey is never complete.
The United States employed military discipline, entrepreneurial freedom, and personal character to become the planet’s nation of choice. Apply this success story to your organization. Start a car pool. Invite the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or agency head to set the vision of where to go and establish regularly measured goals. The CEO represents the Domain, a more generic term for business I use out of respect for my public sector friends. The Domain leader gets the front passenger seat where the maps are stored. Every vehicle needs an Operator to apply the gas and brakes, turn the steering wheel, and monitor the dashboard. A Technologist is important when repairs or maintenance is needed. They are usually innovative and know how to get things done. Keep them in the back seat, but put them next to the window behind the operator so they continue to monitor the dashboard and understand the context of their journey. Across the back seat next to the other window should sit the Program Manager. They’ll hop out to fill the gas tank, ration snacks, and find coupons for all the eating establishments. You’ll find the car pool will get to their destination on time when the Program Manager’s planned 6.535 minute bathroom break duration is strictly adhered to. One last traveler is well placed in the middle back seat. From that vantage point, the Process Coach is able to mentor the other four travelers through the steps of setting direction, operating the vehicle in a manner to reach the destination, managing their resources to arrive in a cost effective manner while achieving the objectives of the trip, hopefully avoiding an expensive and untimely breakdown.
While this arrangement could lead to fascinating conversations while traveling under hard rains feeding miles of corn, soy, and other uniformly distributed crops, the colocation of these disciplines in the confined space of a vehicle may elicit responses from its membership quite hastily in order to get the perceived tactical objective satisfied. Governances is typically a slow, methodical, and diplomatic approach to sustained success, taking no shortcuts and maintains low risk of failure. These five areas work together on a team to leverage organizational assets, whether material or human wisdom, to achieve higher impact goals. In automation projects, much like the car pool, each of the five contributes to teamwork success. In fact, it is highly likely the team, and hence the organization, will fail should any of the five areas not pull their weight while separating their authority to not only govern their area, but also enable other governance bodies to be effective in their own concerns.
Without governance, there is anarchy. Harmony is achieved when the vision is getting to Las Vegas in 22 hours of driving during the warm evening and cooler morning, monitoring for ample fuel and low gas prices along the way. Adequate inexpensive hotels are found and no incidents are reported. Measurable and realistic goals, minimized risk, enhanced comfort, predictable planned results. Governance is shaped from principles and enables everyone to recognize patterns. Playing together in the sandbox well together requires some rules that everyone can buy into.
Democracies have a legislative branch that defines law, executive branch to enforce them, and a judicial system to determine whether new laws are lawful and discretion to apply them. It is a balanced system when all legs of the stool are interested in holding their end of the seat up. We govern by principles that determine our priorities, and lead to what we do next.
This is where we are heading. Our team is the governance bodies, our vehicle is our governance processes, and our compass is the principles of ABoK™. My job is to prepare and guide your team until you're comfortable enough to carpool together.