Proactive or Reactive Governance?

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

A little while back, I had a conversation with a project manager who was concerned that his company was moving to a proactive governance model from their current reactive one. I wasn’t sure quite what he meant, so we spent some time discussing it and it made me think about the two very different approaches.

What he called “proactive governance” is the concept of having a governance stakeholder or committee that is actively involved in the project and works with the project manager to manage the initiative in accordance with the governance requirements. This contrasts with the reactive approach that looks more at establishing the processes, methodologies and standards that are designed to ensure that the project is managed within an appropriate governance framework and then uses tools like project audits to inspect project compliance, requiring corrective actions after the fact (and potentially not until future projects).

Reactive governance
The project manager that I spoke with liked the idea of reactive governance. He felt that the model worked well by establishing the way that projects should be managed--and then using formal or informal audits and controls within the tools and processes to ensure that the project was actually being managed in accordance with that established methodology, that the tools were being used appropriately, etc.

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"Truth comes out of error more readily than out of confusion."

- Francis Bacon