Data Governance Adoption: Bob Seiner on How to Empower Your People to Participate

By Anthony Zumpano

Published on April 5, 2022

Bird's-eye view of multiple working hands on top of a business desk going over data governance adoption

Data Management Meets Human Management

A well-oiled data governance machine comprises many parts, but what’s the most vital component?

It’s you.

You and anyone else at your organization who uses data.

Of course you need the right tools — such as a data catalog — but without buy-in from the people who need to help make governance happen, your framework will look like a racetrack full of cars with no drivers, stalled at the starting line.

That’s why we emphasize the “active” part of our Active Data Governance Methodology, which takes a people-first approach that empowers everyone to take ownership in data governance and management.

As Bob Seiner notes in the following webinar, Data Management Meets Human Management — Why Words Matter: “Everybody in the organization is a potential data steward.” Not everyone has to be a data expert — leave that to the actual experts. But data consumers throughout your enterprise are already defining, producing, and using data, so why not translate technical concepts to relatable ideas so they understand their crucial big role in your data ecosystem?

That’s what Fifth Third Bank did. A Cincinnati–based financial services company managing assets worth nearly half a billion dollars, Fifth Third launched “Bei Dati” (Italian for “beautiful data”), an execution plan for data management within a visual and fun format. They realized that developing standards, policies, and procedures is only half the battle — you have to communicate those directives to other business users in a way that ensures adoption.

So instead of bombarding glazed-eyed employees with flow charts and bullet points, Fifth Third went with pepperoni and cheese.

The Data Management Pizza Pie

Charissa Toole, Fifth Third Bank’s vice president of enterprise data program governance and strategy, uses a pizzeria theme to illustrate levels of data management capabilities and control, with ingredients representing elements of those capabilities:

Slider image of three upside triangles breaking down the pizza pie as a “Plain” (existing data), “Speciality” pizza for newly created or modified data, and “Supreme” (enterprise data / business-critical data)

A “Plain” Pizza (Existing Data)

Contains crust (access permissions), sauce (service agreements), and cheese (a data dictionary)

Slider image breaking down the “Plain” pizza for existing data

A “Specialty” Pizza (Newly Created or Modified Data)

Contains these plus meat (data quality) and veggies (technical lineage)

Slider image breaking down the “Speciality” pizza for newly created or modified data

A “Supreme” Pizza (Enterprise and Business-Critical Data)

Adds extra cheese (a business glossary) plus additional meat and veggies (more robust quality and lineage), and is cooked well done (certification and QA)

Slider image breaking down the “Supreme” pizza for enterprise data / business critical data

By approaching data management with an eye on change management (i.e., people management), Fifth Third is striving to empower its 25,000 employees to become active data consumers.

ADKAR: The Model for Change

So how do you guide transformation of human behavior when it comes to data management? The Fifth Third team has found a powerful framework in ADKAR, which stands for:

  • Awareness

  • Desire

  • Knowledge

  • Ability

  • Reinforcement

On the heels of an internal marketing campaign to raise awareness of Alation and encourage a desire to use it, the data team at Fifth Third has used its pizzeria model to educate newcomers, increasing knowledge with training in more robust data management abilities.

When you consider the ADKAR model for change, any program adoption requires personal activation. “You need to find a way to make that connection with people,” Bob says. “ADKAR relies on personal traits and things that people need to adjust to and adopt to further the way they’re able to govern and steward data in their organization. Make it personable, make it reasonable, and help them understand they play a big role in data governance.”

But even the most energized workforce can’t participate in active data governance without the right tools — your drivers won’t win their race without cars, after all.

Like most large organizations, Fifth Third has a very divided data platform ecosystem, with several dozen tools employing both old and new technology. But as their vice president of enterprise data, Greg Swygart, notes, where data consumption starts and ends — curation and interaction — “the first step in the data marketplace is always Alation.”

“Implementing an effective data governance program really requires getting people involved,” Bob concludes. “That means they need tools to leverage data as a truly valued asset — and the data catalog offers the kinds of tools organizations need to make their data governance less passive and more active.”

Watch this webinar to learn more about the importance of engaging data consumers to participate in your data management and governance initiatives — and how Alation makes that participation possible.

Curious to hear more from Bob Seiner?

  • Data Management Meets Human Management
  • The Data Management Pizza Pie
  • ADKAR: The Model for Change
Tagged with