Data Governance &
The Temptation of Doughnuts

Protecting and enhancing data assets through strong data governance sounds obvious. It also sounds obvious to protect and enhance your body by avoiding junk food such as doughnuts. Yet organisations struggle to implement and maintain their data governance initiatives and people keep eating doughnuts.


Let’s contrast governance of financial assets with governance of data assets. Imagine a Chief Financial Officer sitting in a room with bags of money lying around and employees wander in and grab cash whenever they feel like it. This bizarre scenario would quickly result in the organisation going broke; even a government with its powers of taxation would quickly crumble.

The reality is that many organisations treat data assets without any controls. The result is that data is:

  • Used incorrectly
  • Poorly described
  • Low quality
  • Randomly duplicated.

We would never treat financial assets the way we treat data assets. The underlying reason for the different treatment of financial assets versus data assets is urgency.

Imagine if a dog began to sprint toward you, barking and growling, teeth bared, ready to bite. You would quickly react to protect yourself from harm. Financial assets also require this same level of attention to avert financial disaster.

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Now imagine a situation where you eat a doughnut for lunch. This will have no immediate effect on your health. However, if you start eating doughnuts for every lunch and dinner you will eventually have a health crisis.

Similarly, an organisation can neglect data assets for a period without suffering major setbacks. Eventually, it will catch up and disaster will occur.

Many people struggle with eating properly and exercising regularly because improvements occur slowly and habit is hard to change. It requires discipline.

Data governance is the same, it is easier to operate the way you have been, or to give up because the benefits are slow to materialise. Organisational success in data governance depends on perseverance and tenacity. It is guaranteed to be hard work, but your data assets need protecting now to avoid disaster in the future.