About lightweight digital governance
What is lightweight digital governance?
Governance is about collective responsibility.
Lightweight governance assumes competency and sets out to create the best conditions for people to get things right.
Lightweight digital governance is about using modern, agile, digital, ways of thinking and doing to create the best conditions for collective responsibility to flourish.
When those conditions exist, things are improved, how they are improved improves, and those improving them see the improvements.
What’s the difference between lightweight and heavyweight governance?
Heavyweight governance focuses on having decision-making controls and checkpoints separated from those doing the work.
Lightweight governance focuses on ensuring people have all the skills and knowledge they need to make the right decisions about their work.
A lightweight digital governance model
One part of the governance model ensures the thing being governed aligns with strategy, sets the standards, designs the procedures and provides the training.
The other part of the model implements the standards and procedures, does the necessary work, checks it for quality, releases and monitors it to feedback on how well those standards and procedures meet the needs, whether there are gaps in the training, and new things need to be governed.
The model is:
- Cyclical – the cycle can be monthly, quarterly, annually, etc., depending on the needs of what is being governed, but it relies on a feedback loop for its success. This helps the governance to improve as it improves what is being governed.
- Separates activities – but doesn’t separate the people or their responsibilities. Those involved in implementing a standard can be involved in using it and providing feedback to improve it.
Governing a charity’s website.
Those involved decide that in order to govern the website effectively that need to take collective responsibility for accessibility, branding, performance, security.
A traditional heavyweight governance model might make different teams responsible for each of those things, but lightweight governance recognises that creates a coordination burden that leads to more trouble than it’s worth, so it’s better that one team with all the skills it needs take on that responsibility.
The team sets the standards for the website, e.g., WCAG 2.1 for accessibility, password length for security, and they write the procedures for checking readability scores or vulnerability testing, and they create training in how to use the procedures to achieve the standards.
They then create content on the website, develop new functionality, etc., applying what they learned in the training, and feeding-back on how that’s working so it can be improved.
The more quickly things move through the cycle, the more quickly they are improved, so critical changes should move quickly and less important change can move slowly.