My career in technology

Governance has become a hot topic in the SharePoint community.  This is my third installment exploring the topic.

In my first installment, I talked about Why SharePoint Governance is a hot topic (basically because without governance, you will have a mess).  Next, I talked about What SharePoint Governance is, or can be (more than just “Thou shalt not”!). 

This post covers the sticky topic of Organizational Culture – how did we get here and how do we get ourselves out?

Organizations, especially companies, are a lot like small children. They are all Id, they want what they want and they want it now. Tell a small child not to touch the hot stove, and I guarantee you, within 30 seconds they will be reaching for that stove. Most companies are barely able to see beyond the next project, much less the end of the quarter, and that candy bar is going to taste sooooo much better than those peas and carrots, and Daaaad, I need those Pokémon cards!

Which is not to say they don’t have occasional good reason to be that way. Beyond just having to make the targets every quarter, companies are made up of people. Often, people need that kind of intense focus of “get it done right now” or else they will be off checking their Facebook, or their Twitter, or their blog stats, or… squirrel! (ref)

So when it came time to deploy SharePoint for the first time, one (or more) of these things may have happened in your organization:

  • You told the toddler, “Don’t touch that hot stove”, but your organization ignored the best practices.
  • Management said “We don’t have time to plan, just get it out there, now!” 
  • Management told the database administrator (or some other person with an inadequate understanding of the ramifications, or with little investment in the outcome) “I’ve heard about this SharePoint thing.  Install it for us.” 
  • Your organization just wanted to try it out, see if there was any value in it before expending a lot of hours and effort in getting it just right.
  • Your organization adopted early enough that the unintended consequences weren’t known when you adopted the system.
  • Your organization’s management style is fast and loose, wanting to be agile, and isn’t used to doing things in a methodical way.
  • Your organization’s management style is heavy-handed, and nobody thought to get user buy-in first.
  • The organization failed to have the foresight to understand that adopting the new technology would require user training to understand the consequences of certain usage patterns.
  • The organization failed to have the foresight to understand that the training would require ongoing “booster shots”.
  • Your organization is overrun with creative types who just have to do things their own way.

Gee, none of that sounds at all like what might have happened prior to my arrival at any organization I might be (or have ever been) associated with.  Nope.

I have some bad news for you.  If your organizational culture was the problem that led to your out-of-control SharePoint implementation, guess what?  Your organizational culture will be your primary obstacle to proper governance going forward, and essentially will be the target of a lot of your governance plan.  It will be the limiting factor for what can be accomplished without change to the culture.

But there is good news too!  The toddler with burned fingers is a LOT more willing to listen to you while the fingers are still sore (but be sure to comfort them first).  Let’s not touch the stove again, right?  You have just found the teachable moment.

And there is better news, too!  If problems in the organizational culture are causing problems with your SharePoint implementation, you can bet there are other places in the company with pain points that have the same causes.  These are you allies in the fight to get governance adopted, because by helping solve your problems, they are getting help solving their problems, too.

If you haven’t upgraded to SharePoint 2010 yet, you are in the best position possible (assuming you have some funding to do the upgrade). You have that candy bar they want – BCS, improved dashboarding, better document and records management features, and so on – that you can use to encourage them to eat their peas and carrots.

And, especially if you choose a migration path rather than an upgrade, the users are already going to be experiencing a disruption in their habits… a great time to help them learn new behaviors to replace the things that were contributing to the problems.

If you haven’t already implemented SharePoint in your organization, help your management understand that other companies have made some missteps when implementing SharePoint and there are lessons learned – and that you can benefit from those lessons AT NO COST TO THEM!  Other companies have paid the price to create and learn best practices, and you don’t have to pay that price.  All you have to do is do what you should be doing in the first place.

In short, your SharePoint governance plan can be a part of creating the change your organization needs.

Next time – SharePoint Governance – Your Plan

Read the whole series on SharePoint Governance:
Part One: SharePoint Governance – Why?
Part Two: SharePoint Governance – What is it?
Part Three: SharePoint Governance – vs Organizational Culture (You are here!)
Part Four: SharePoint Governance – Your Plan
Part Five: SharePoint Governance – Law & Order

More posts about SharePoint.

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