“What skills does a Data Governance manager need?” is a question I’m often asked. In fact, I’ve made a stab at answering it here: https://lnkd.in/eSRuYMz4#data

Re-reading that reminds me of a discussion I had with Debbie Carless BA(Hons) PGDipIM CMgr FCMI (who is DG manager at Solent and also a musician) as to if the role was analogous to that of a conductor of an orchestra.

There’s something in that; creating a community of the willing coalescing around a single idea. Lots of subject matter experts all following the same score. All of us together far more than the sum of our parts. Working together in an act of shared endeavour. All led by someone who is trying to manage lots of different agendas and priorities.

Orchestration as a concept fits well to data governance especially with this definition: “the planning or coordination of the elements of a situation to produce a desired effect, especially surreptitiously”. Surreptitiously is doing some heavy lifting here, as often with DG we’re flying under the radar. Making the right thing also the easy thing.

But, for me anyway, this is where the metaphor falls down. I’ve just watched Cate Blanchett in Tar though, so this may have affected my view!

In the film (mirrored in real life I suppose) the conductors’ authority is enshrined. He or she is very much the ‘head’ of the orchestra. Their word is law, they get to choose the players and the score. That doesn’t feel very much like data governance at all. On a side note, it DOES seem at least adjacent to traditional law or policy-based information governance. Which is one of the reasons the DG role needs very different skills.

One of those is communication because while a musical score may be interpreted, where it starts, ends and the journey to get there is agreed. We’re often not at a level of maturity where this end state is fully understood. Never mind how to get there!

Finally, there’s a well understood value of the musicians – it’s their primary role which is not so with an owner or a steward. Having said all that though, it’s still a useful analogy for provoking some thought and bringing the sometimes misunderstood (even mystical) role of the Data Governance manager/team into a metaphor that is well understood.

It certainly works better than a football manager. Although sometimes explaining what we’re doing in DG feels like trying to explain to a recently landed alien how the offside law works!

So what do you think? What role is most closely associated to that of the DG manager? If it’s not a conductor, what is a better fit?