One reason for our discipline’s spotty record of success is that traditional learning and development, with its focus on competency gaps and skill building, is too small a box to encompass the complexities of employee behavior and business performance. The skill gap methodology (“sheep cleaning”) presupposes that there’s just one thing missing and that once you have provided it, performance will improve. It further assumes that the missing component is located in the brain of the subjects rather than in the environment around them. When it comes to the complex endeavor of changing behavior, these are highly suspicious assumptions. For lasting behavior change, you must also partner with business leaders to “clean the pen.”
While technical challenges can be daunting, often failures don’t happen because the technology itself doesn’t work. More often, failures are on the organization side. Poor planning, unreasonable or fuzzy expectations, misaligned business processes and lack of buy-in from stakeholders are far more likely to bring a project down than technical issues. Governance builds on the ethos of change management. But where change management typically revolves around implementation of a single initiative, governance begins earlier, takes an enterprise view, asks more strategic questions, draws connections across disparate projects and processes and looks at all stages of the lifecycle for each project.