Five Ways Agile Governance Can Help You Have More Fun

Five Ways Agile Governance Can Help You Have More Fun

“Governance” is a scary word isn’t it? Few people could tell you what it means. And “Agile Governance” sounds, well, just wrong. A classic oxymoron.


Governance” in its broadest sense means “to steer” (from the Greek: kubernáo).

Corporate Governance” generally refers to the set of processes, customs, policies, laws and institutions through which people direct, administer, control and “steer” a corporation.

Information Technology (IT) Governance” generally refers to the connections between business focus and IT management. The espoused purpose of IT Governance is to assure the business’s investment in IT generates business value and to mitigate the risks that are associated with IT projects.

Agile Governance“, then, on the surface at least, means assuring the business’s investment in IT generates business value, and mitigating the risks that are commonly associated with Agile ways of working.

A Slam Dunk

So that’s a lot of what Agile’s about anyways, isn’t it? Making sure projects generate business value, especially early and often, and mitigating the risks associated with e.g. software development? So if we do Agile “properly” (I mean, in accordance with its principles, rather than just “by the book”), we’re pretty much home and dry, aren’t we?

Five Ways

Home and dry? Pretty much.

Agile Governance might sound like a lemon – but as the old saying goes

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

There are some things we can choose to focus on which makes our “Agile Governance” more fun – and more effective, too:

  1. Focus on value.
    I see many developers and teams get a kick out of delivering things to customers – things that those customers really prize. Making their lives easier, taking aways some pain, saving some time or effort, reducing mistakes. That kind of thing. Even better, focus on needs. Then we don’t have to guess what “valuable” things actually meet folks’ needs. Less wasted effort – a.k.a. doing what’s actually needed – can be a source of fun, too – at least in a less-daily-crap kind of way. Using hypotheses in lieu of “requirements” can also help here.

  2. Share in the common purpose.
    It’d be nice even to know what the business sees as the purpose of the company. Better yet – and fun for some – is being involved in elaborating and evolving that common purpose. Folks like a say in WHY they’re doing something.

  3. Be in charge of the way your own work works.
    Nobody enjoys being micro-managed. Who knows better just how to do some specific task than the person – or people – doing it? That’s much more fun than being told. Explain to those who would rule over you how being able to do it your way makes for more fun all round. And more productivity too, by-the-by.

  4. Get good at stuff.
    Doing stuff gets to be less and less fun after you’ve done the same stuff a couple of times. But getting better at doing stuff, learning more about how to do stuff and improving one’s own capabilities, skills and know-how. That’s fun for most people. Find ways to build time into the schedule to practices, learn and reflect – both individually, and with others.

  5. Get to make a difference.
    Developers and the like can get an unimaginable (to others) amount of satisfaction (a.k.a. joy, fun) out of feeling that they’re making a real difference. Having folks recognise this difference-making on a regular basis – maybe via celebrations, ceremonies, cake, or even a regular simple expression of thanks – can be incredibly uplifting.

Governance being fun? That seems an oxymoron in itself. But apply these five ways, and you’ll find it’s much more fun than you might have thought.

– Bob

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