Session 14-7

The role that Empathy plays in designing Data Governance Programs

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Data Governance programs typically focus on the elements of the work required to implement data management policies, practices and standards including disciplines of metadata, data quality, data security, data ethics and so on.

Data Governance programs typically recite the frameworks through presentations and workshops, with little attention paid to how stakeholders will apply the new knowledge in the data management operations.

Data Governance managers deliver the program, report completion, then when they circle back to the business team, say three months later, they ask whether there has been any measurable improvement?

Typical response would be that stakeholders have been too busy to apply what they have learnt or they may say that other work has taken priority or more than likely they will say that they don’t have sufficient resources to prioritise the data governance program. Does this sound familiar?

Clearly there is something missing, but what is it?  On the surface Data Governance has failed to deliver on its promise, or at the very minimum it has failed to make any lasting impact on the stakeholders they are meant to serve.

These situations are more common and widespread than we care to admit.  As leaders in Data Governance, we need to do a dive deep to discover the root causes why Data Governance fails to meet the promise? We need to do more, much more to understand the challenges.

My experience is that data governance programs typically fail when they do not pay adequate attention to the human factors in the implementation of the change.

Data Governance managers need to actively recognise the subtle behavioural cues, to systematically identify the challenges, risks, fears, and insecurities surfaced through implementation of data governance.

Leaders need to use empathic techniques to establish an emotional connection with the community of stakeholders they are serving.

Practitioners need to understand the real problems and challenges that are relevant to stakeholders, then proceed to assist them through solving real problems through the discovery of knowledge, and openly sharing it.

Leaders need to actively communicate with their stakeholder Community.     Empathy is the key to success.    Creating and sustaining empathetic relationships is a fundamental pre-requisite; We should be putting people first. Our community does not talk enough about the role of Empathic relationships.

We are proposing a panel discussion to explore the role that empathy plays in delivering better data governance outcomes.   We will compile case studies from Mr Andrews’ professional career experiences and include additional evidence gathered from DAMA Communities in Australia and Internationally.

Background materials will be circulated prior to the symposium:

The panel will invite delegates to share their experiences and help inform the conversation.



National Vice President, Data Management Association Australia (DAMA)

Dr. Laura Sebastian-Coleman

Director Data Quality, Prudential Financial

Mark Sparvell

Director Marketing Education, Microsoft

Dora Boussias

Transformational Leader, Data Strategy & Enterprise Architecture

Paul Davies

Acting Head of Enterprise Data Governance, ANZ Banking Group Australia