Governance is seen differently by Directors and Managers

A survey undertaken as part of our work developing a paper on ‘project governance’ highlights a distinct difference between the views held by managers and directors. To gather data, we ran a short survey between 23rd January and 9th February 2013 on four closed Linked-In groups; two of the groups were for project management association members, two for company directors. In all cases you had to be a member of the association to be a member of the group ensuring the sample communities were quite distinct.

The survey question was:
Who is responsible for the governance of an organisation? This poll is focused on governing, rather than implementing policy unless you feel implementation of policy is itself a governance function.

The four options included in the survey were:
- The Board of Directors or equivalent:
– The Directors plus Senior Executives:
– The Senior Management group:
– All managers in governance roles eg PCBs: (project control boards)

Whilst the total number of responses were low a significant difference of views emerged between the two communities.

The overwhelming majority of directors, 86% see governance as the exclusive responsibility of the Board of Directors or its equivalent.

Whereas more than 70% of the project managers see ‘governance’ as the responsibility of either ‘The Directors plus Senior Executives’ or ‘The Senior Management group’ and less then 30% agree with the proposition that governance is the exclusive responsibility of the Board of Directors or their equivalent.

Whilst it would be useful to validate these findings with a larger sample, the stark difference between the two communities is consistent with our observations and other anecdotal evidence. The project management community perspective that ‘governance’ is a management function is simply not supported by other managers and directors.

We have been advocating for several years that:
“Governance” is what a “governing body” does. It might be a geo-political entity (nation-state), a corporate entity (business entity), a socio-political entity (chiefdom, tribe, family etc.), or any number of different kinds of governing bodies, but governance is the way rules are set and implemented.
(Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governance)
It is encouraging to see the directors of our businesses have a similar view.

The damage caused by the project management communities’ view of governance is set out in a letter-to-the-editor published in this months PM World Journal, see: http://pmworldjournal.net/article/on-the-subject-of-the-january-series-article-enterprise-project-governance-how-to-manage-projects-successfully-across-the-organization-what-is-enterprise-project-governance-by-paul-dinsmore-luiz/

For more papers on this subject see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/PM-Knowledge_Index.html#OrgGov1

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One response to “Governance is seen differently by Directors and Managers

  1. Organisational Governance and Project Governance are two related but different animals. You can’t blame project managers for SOX.

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