“As leaders wake up to the interdependency of their organization’s success and the well-being of their workers, innovative business leaders will ensure that worker voices are no longer discounted or drowned out, but seen as valuable inputs to operational redesigns and new products or processes. “

The Aspen Institute, “Raising Worker Voice”

I attended a webinar this week hosted by The Aspen Institute on “The Value of Worker Voice,” where I learned from CEO panelists Carmen Rojas and Jim Keene about co-governance models in business.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Co-governance is based on a principle called “Subsidiarity.” Subsidarity occurs when decisions and issues are dealt with at the immediate level in an organization–rather than “top-down”, decisions are made “crowd-up.”

Co-governance models are not new. 12-Step Programs such as Narcotics Anonymous operate this way, with decisions being made at the group level in cities and towns across the world. Those decisions are carried to “Area” meetings, then reflected up to “World,” where “leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”

If Narcotics Anonymous can thrive for decades, with consistency in terms of the meeting experience across the globe in many languages, overcoming cultural differences, creating and publishing literature and hosting conferences, and, of course, saving lives–can’t this kind of success also be translated into business?

Of course–that’s been proven, and it, too, is not new. For example, in her book “The Job: The Future of Work in the Modern Era,” Ellen Ruppell Shell outlines several cooperatives that are thriving today both in the US: For example, Hospital Cooperative Laundry in Colorado, and the Mondragon Corporation in Spain’s Basque region.

So what does this mean for measurement, data, and analytics teams? In short, co-governance is the way all data functions in all companies should structure themselves, because data is is a problem-solver’s discipline, not a top-down, tiered discipline.

As part of Data 101’s multi-city tour for Publicis Health’s Early Careers program, I got to meet data folk from all over our network, in person. Some of these early-career analysts have helped build our most popular branded solutions and products, including predictive text scoring and networking analyses that show patient journeys from symptom onset, to diagnosis, to treatment, and beyond. These young analysts reminded me of my own early data self, creating taxonomies and defining metrics for digital news. A great idea can come from anywhere, and when creating data teams out of siloed, scattered groups of analytics folks, I always keep that in mind.

In data, co-governance means very specific things. It means analysts and data engineers are empowered to shape how we work, the chance to speed up what’s slow, to slow down what needs more time, the chance to create processes and procedures that work for us, the chance to pick what metrics and dimensions matter, and the chance to weigh in on delivery timing to end users.

I know that even when I’m working with a totally new team of people I’ve never met before, I can trust them in a co-governance model. That’s because I’ve personally seen, again and again, how better products come from co-governance models, because co-governance fosters innovation and better quality control standards. As a team lead, showing people you’re trusting them, not telling them can take a project into radically wonderful directions.

So in short: There are people out there who want to clock in, clock out, and get a paycheck. Those people are not typically in the world of data for long. Data people, as a whole, are generally passionate, interested, creative, and conscientious types, and they require that their voices be heard–at every step of the process.

And on behalf of data people everywhere, to leadership, I say, Let them choose. Let them build. Let them shine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: