Got Governance?

Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.

Governance is one of those terms that is often used, but seldom understood. Similar to strategy, it’s usually equated with a fuzzy, high-level concept that plays well with executives. The challenge for all of us though is that if it’s really as vital as everyone makes out, what is it, why is it important and how do we know if we’re not getting it?
 
Part of the difficulty is that governance itself is a broad concept that is applied differently in various situations. The principle foundation of the word “governance” is, not surprisingly, rooted in the concept of “government”. An underlying definition according to Merriam-Webster is the “organization, machinery or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions” and that “constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization.” The basic principles imply oversight, coordination, control and ensuring the realization of expectations within an organization. But what does this mean for projects? How does it work? And how do we work with it?
 
The idea of governance in a project context can realistically be divided into two dimensions that I’ll call “organizational governance” and “project governance”. Organizational governance represents those choices that organizational …

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