December 27, 2023
Information Insight

Data Governance as a Team Sport: The Tactics of Enterprise Thinking

In the world of data governance, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking about it as a competition—winning and losing at a departmental or business unit level. This mindset often stems from a desire for representation and the pursuit of individual agendas. However, to truly succeed in data governance, we must recognize that it is a team sport played at the enterprise level. The key to success lies in shifting our focus from representation to coverage.

Coverage Over Representation

When it comes to data governance, coverage should take precedence over representation. Instead of solely aiming to have your best fighter represent your department in the data governance arena, consider the bigger picture. Think about how your data governance efforts can account for the entirety of your enterprise.

Data governance is not about winning battles within the organization; it’s about ensuring that the organization as a whole thrives. This means putting aside individualistic agendas and striving for what’s best for the enterprise, the entire organization, rather than a particular department or team. In essence, it’s coverage over representation.

Selecting the Right Team for Data Governance Success

To excel in the team sport of data governance, it’s crucial to select the right individuals who can embody the principles of enterprise thinking. One key trait to look for is emotional intelligence. People with emotional intelligence can recognize their own intrinsic agendas and values, but more importantly, they can also understand and empathize with the group’s needs.

The ideal team members for a data governance working group are those who can step outside their individual perspectives and think holistically about what benefits the entire organization. They are the ones who understand that within data governance, decisions are rarely a matter of being right or wrong; instead, they involve weighing the pros and cons and making choices that align with the organization’s long-term goals.

Moving Towards Consensus in Data Governance

In data governance, success isn’t about one person or department “winning” by imposing their views on others. Instead, it’s about striving for consensus and making decisions that serve the best interests of the enterprise as a whole. This requires a collaborative mindset and a commitment to putting the organization’s well-being above individual fiefdoms.

The essence of enterprise data governance lies in fostering a culture of cooperation and shared purpose. It’s about recognizing that the decisions made today will have a lasting impact on the organization’s ability to succeed in the future, whatever that success may mean in the context of your specific organization.

Benefits of an Enterprise Thinking Approach

Embracing an enterprise thinking approach in data governance yields numerous benefits. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Improved Decision-Making: By focusing on consensus and the greater good of the organization, you can make more informed decisions that benefit the enterprise as a whole.
  2. Enhanced Collaboration: Enterprise data governance encourages collaboration and cross-functional teamwork, breaking down silos and fostering a spirit of cooperation.
  3. Long-term Success: Decisions made with the enterprise’s best interests in mind set the stage for sustained success and adaptability in a rapidly changing business landscape.
  4. Reduced Conflict: By emphasizing consensus over competition, you can reduce internal conflicts and create a more harmonious working environment.

Key Challenges to Overcome

While the benefits of enterprise thinking in data governance are compelling, there are challenges to overcome:

  1. Resistance to Change: Shifting from a departmental mindset to enterprise thinking can be met with resistance from those who are used to pursuing individual agendas.
  2. Identifying the Right Team Members: Selecting individuals with emotional intelligence and a commitment to enterprise thinking can be challenging, as it requires a careful evaluation of their mindset and values.
  3. Balancing Short-Term and Long-Term Goals: Striking a balance between immediate objectives and long-term organizational success can be tricky, but it’s essential for effective data governance.

Best Practices for Enterprise Thinking in Data Governance

To successfully embrace enterprise thinking in data governance, consider the following best practices:

  1. Foster a Collaborative Culture: Create an organizational culture that values collaboration, consensus-building, and shared goals.
  2. Invest in Emotional Intelligence: Provide training and development opportunities to enhance emotional intelligence within your team, as it plays a crucial role in effective enterprise data governance.
  3. Prioritize Long-Term Objectives: Keep the organization’s long-term success in mind when making data governance decisions, even if it means making short-term sacrifices.

Kenway’s Approach to Data Governance

Data governance is indeed a team sport, and the concept of enterprise thinking should be at its core. By shifting the focus from departmental competition to enterprise-wide collaboration, organizations can unlock the true potential of their data governance efforts. It’s about choosing the path that best equips your organization to win not only today but also in the future, whatever “winning” may mean in your unique context. Embracing the principles of coverage over representation and selecting the right individuals with emotional intelligence can lead to more effective data governance and greater organizational success.

Taking the Next Step

Here at Kenway, we use these principles to effectively partner with organizations and implement or mature their data governance capabilities.

We have a people and process-first mentality that serves our Clients well. It’s thinking like this that shapes data cultures and leads to long-term success in Data Governance. 

If you’re ready to take the next step in your data governance journey, connect with one of our consultants to learn more.


What does a data governance team do?

A data governance team plays a crucial role in managing and overseeing an organization’s data assets to ensure their quality, accessibility, consistency, and security. Their responsibilities include establishing data policies, standards, and procedures; coordinating between different departments to ensure data is used effectively and ethically; and facilitating data-driven decision making.

What is the role of a data governance team?

The role of a data governance team is to ensure the proper management, usage, and protection of an organization’s data assets. This team facilitates collaboration and consensus-building across various departments, emphasizing enterprise-wide coverage rather than individual representation. Their focus is on creating and enforcing policies and procedures that govern data access, quality, and compliance, helping the organization to navigate the balance between immediate objectives and long-term success in data governance.

Who are the people involved in data governance?

Data Stewards or potentially Data Owners often have “day jobs” in departments like Operations, Marketing, Product Management, Technology, Data Science. The primary decision-making body, the Working Group, is pulled from similar departments, but with a focus on authority (formal or informal) and ability to work toward group decision-making. The Steering Group is composed of senior executives capable of sustaining organizational focus and funding, as well as arbitrating the most challenging data challenges. Much of this may also be centralized in larger organizations that have a greater demand for Data Governance time and focus.

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