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Governance and Trust

Page history last edited by Charles Fritz 9 years, 8 months ago

First we will define four related concepts: 

 

Governance = the creation of a mechanism to apply a method or system of government or management within an organization which defines specific activities and the responsibilities associated with decision making for those activities.

 

Project management = the planning, organizing, directing, and controlling of company resources to achieve a short term objective.  

 

Program portfolio management = is an evolving collection of organizational initiatives and activities that contribute to the goals of the organizations  

 

Enterprise Business Strategy = an Enterprise business strategy is a long-term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal or goals for the organization utilizing projects, initiatives, and programs.  

 

Governance and Trust

 

Governance is a critical part of any organizations ongoing operations. Program portfolio management guides the direction of initiatives, projects and programs toward completion while maintaining compliance with organizational goals and objectives known as Enterprise Business Strategy.  Does governance help develop a level of trust within the organization by providing a clear direction on how to accomplish and resolve issues related to the successful completion of these activities or does it hinder those same operations by providing additional and unnecessary oversight? Do the team members feel as if governance is big brother looking over their shoulders which promotes a feeling of distrust between senior management and the staff? 

 

Development of trust within the program, project or initiative

  

 The importance and inter-related nature of these activities cannot be overstated. On the initiative and project level, individuals work together in a variety of activities to build trust among their team. They must depend on each other to produce assigned work which in turn allows other team members to thus complete their own work. The management of these projects depends heavily on each individual pulling their weight and completing their tasks on time and without errors.

 

 The project manager is responsible for developing, promoting and maintaining that trust between his/her team as reporting, tracking and analysis, and periodic and milestone review validate whether the project is on track and fulfilling the goals of the business enterprise plan. As each checkpoint comes and goes, trust builds and the team builds the critical mass necessary to bring the project to completion.   

 

Transparency

  

The upward trajectory of this reporting process leads us to two issues that are addressed above the level of the team member. Transparency, which is the act of providing openness, communication, and accountability for the results of all projects and initiatives which are bundled into programs, tracked and reported. The consistent reporting, tracking and analysis, and periodic and milestone review pushes this information into the hands of the program manager and next the senior manager or stakeholder responsible for the program, project, or initiative who then assists in the determination as to whether the program, project or initiative is still in line with the original business case and ultimately the enterprise business plan.  

 

Governance 

 

The act of governance within an organization is the most critical of activities related to program, project, and initiative trust. As stated previously, governance is the creation of a mechanism to apply a method or system of government or management within an organization which defines specific activities and the responsibilities associated with decision making for those activities. The key here is that governance overlays a systemic process that covers all organizational functions which gives managers and team members specific directives on how to resolve issues that require decision making. It ultimately defines who has responsibility, how that responsibility is granted, and how the responsibility will be used to make critical decisions regarding all operations that affect compliance with the enterprise business plan. 

 

This implies a different type of trust than what is found in programs, projects, and initiatives.  As opposed to relying on your workmate to produce assigned result which lead to the successful completion of an initiative, the teams, managers, vendors, customers, other employees, government agencies and employees and many others depend on the senior management, specifically the executive office of the organization to provide leadership in creating and applying governance principles throughout the organizational structure. Accountability and responsibility are the key words here. The senior stakeholder or manager has ultimate accountability and responsibility to ensure all activities promote the enterprise business plan even at the expense of closing out popular but inappropriate or non-producing assets or programs. The staff, by following the mandates of these governance decisions, supply the executive office with the trust/support it needs to make the decisions necessary to keep the organization healthy and consequently the executive office provides the trust/support needed by the staff to continue to be productive. 

 

I witnessed a current example of this type of two way trust on the show, Undercover Boss, which focused on Frontier Airline. Frontier acquired or merged with two other carriers within a short amount of time which led to overstaffing and other operational issues while the carriers were being merged into Frontier. The CEO and executive board of Frontier promised there would be as few layoffs as possible. They kept their promise but in the process of avoiding layoff were forced to ask all employees to take a 10% pay cut. This is an example of executive office governance in setting the direction and adjusting the enterprise business plan to ensure the long-term survival of the airline. The employees trusted the executive officers, reviewed the financial state of the airline, accepted the pay cuts and after some tumultuous times the airline is now on solid footing. 

 

The second part of the trust sequence goes from the executive office back to the line employees. In the show, the CEO goes undercover to train in different parts of the airline only to discover many employees are struggling to make ends meet because of the 10% pay cuts. Even though they are being paid less they still work hard to ensure the airline is a success. The overall enthusiasm and work ethic of the line employees was so impressing that the CEO has committed to restoring the 10% pay cuts over the course of three years. 

 

Conclusion

 

Governance and Trust are a two way street between the executive office of an organization and its staff. They must trust each other has the best interest of the organization as its foremost objective and be willing to communicate and act according to the governance standards presented by the executive office. Consequently the executive office must be willing to listen to and accept that their line employees are subject matter experts capable of providing many useful ideas, suggestions, and plans, and deserve a voice in the governance process.     

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