gov·ern·ance/ˈgəvərnəns/ Noun: 1. The action or manner of governing. 2. Sway; control.

But here’s the thing: it’s not really about control. It’s about persuasion, especially within large organizations, and especially as it relates to social media. With free platforms available in the cloud, all your people need is an Internet connection and a laptop to set up half a dozen accounts and add their voices to the proliferation of off-brand messaging screaming out on the web.

In other words, digital governance is often all carrot, no stick – you really can’t get people to do what you want, unless they want to.

So how do you?

1. Make it easy. Governance should be about creating an environment (that means tools, guidelines, resources, assets and a clear plan) that makes it really hard, almost foolish, to go off course. Clear the path and people will likely walk on it.

2. Think about why people are “going rogue”. I get that it’s bad, I get that it wastes resources and exposes the organization to risk. But the first question you need to ask yourself before issuing the big clampdown is, “Why?” Is there a problem with your infrastructure that makes creating social programs difficult? Is there not enough guidance? If you think you have set a clear path, but people are still not walking on it, you need to find out what’s in the way.

3. Culture eats strategy. This is now officially a cliche. It’s also true. Do you have an organizational culture that likes rules, or likes to break them? Have you truly gotten everyone on board who needs to be there? Are they on the path with you, or are you a lone voice, crying in the wilderness?

Trouble with digital governance? I challenge you think about how you’re approaching it; you can’t just issue a set of rules and expect people to follow them, especially if the rules don’t take their reality into account. Get curious.

I’d love to hear about your governance challenges in the comments below.

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1 Comment

  1. Martha

    Hi Maggie,

    A great post with some key reminders for those struggling. Speaking from a government perspective, I think a growing challenge here is, quick simply, the ability to more quickly create the environment to which you refer (tools, guidelines, plans, training etc.)

    What does this mean? I believe recognition that guidance, however “unofficial” is still extremely valuable to public servants. Without it, enter the “rogues.” ;)

    And to your final point – yes please!! Rules that respect existing, and possibly dated policies without reflecting current realities are asking to be broken.

    Excellent advice.

    Thanks
    Martha
    @mjmclean

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