Live from ConfabEU: 10 steps to salvation: Creating digital governance that works

10 steps to salvation: Creating digital governance that works, by Kate Thomas

logo-smallGovernance combines processes, people, and technology so that organizations can function.

Old style governance was easy.

  • The IT department took care of all online stuff
  • Governance was about procurement
  • There wasn’t the 24hr news cycle
  • There were far fewer channels
  • In 1998 PayPal came into the field, 2000 TripAdvisor, 2003 WordPress, 2005 Facebook and YouTube – lots more channels, user generated content, etc!!
  • This is what happens when devices, channels, and content collide.


In the new world order everyone is a publisher, and governance is far more complex.

Failures of governance happen every day. The tell tale signs:

  • Not everyone is on board the digital train
  • Poor documentation and format
  • No clear process for sign-off or approval
  • No shared understanding of managing non-standard requests

And as a result we have crazy workflows.

Story time:

When the power went out in a big snowstorm, the user went to the electric company’s site on their mobile, and found a handy link on the homepage to request they fix the power. Two weeks later, when the power went out in a smaller snowstorm, the electric company didn’t have the handy link up (because they weren’t expecting power to be down) and as a result the user had a frustrating experience.

This was a governance failure, but it wasn’t because people didn’t care.

The new governance:

  • It’s not a document or committee, it’s a new way of working.
  • 21st century government is the supportive mesh of digital success.
  • It includes text, images, metadata and tagging, tone of voice, visual style, content management, and analytics.
  • Governance framework includes people, process, and technology.

Ten steps to Salvation:

  1. Strategy: define a plan and a common vision for the organization.
    • Ensure it’s user-centered.
  2. Get buy in.
    • The exec and CMO/CTO must be on board.
    • If the head honchos don’t live and breathe the vision, it won’t take root.
  3. Select the technology and tools that support the vision.
    • Follow the leaders – see what big companies are using for their tools.
  4. Spring clean: Get rid of any people, processes, or tools that you don’t need.
    • Figure out job roles and team goals.
  5. Create a content vision and identify examples of content that does and does not fall under this vision.
  6. Build workflows that map the dependencies and accountability.
    • Identify the long term vision, not just the short term workflows.
    • This makes the process very transparent.
  7. Socialize the plan so that everyone becomes familiar with it.
    • Explain it to people so that they understand where they stand with it.
    • Don’t just get sign off – make sure they see it and pay attention.
  8. Start analyzing the plan for how it works for the strategy.
    • Is it supporting the content strategy?
    • Does it help users?
  9. Test it all and refine.
    • Test how effective it is, determine benchmarks.
    • Track how much is being spent on it.
  10. Continue to iterate – you’re not locked into anything.
    • Stay prepared for the future.
    • Recognize that the plan will need to be flexible and agile.

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