Season 3 Episode 2
Welcome to Season 3 of the Law Firm Data Governance podcast. I’m CJ Anderson, founder of Iron Carrot and I’m excited to share more of what I’ve learned in my 20-plus years of working with information and data in law firms.
In this third season: “be the best data governance lead you can be”, I move beyond the ‘what’ of season one and the ‘why’ of season two by introducing some of the ‘how’ and the ‘who’.
Over the 10 episodes in this season, I’ll share what I’ve learned about using a bottom-up approach to achieve your data governance deliverables. I will be talking you through the specific skills and knowledge that can help you be a successful law firm data governance lead.
In this episode I talk about change management. What it is, why it’s important for data governance leads to understand it, how it helps your firm, and some change management models that I’ve found helpful in implementing a data governance framework in law firms.
Law Firm Data Governance Podcast
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Welcome to season three of the law firm Data Governance Podcast. I’m CJ Anderson, founder of Iron Carrot, and I’m excited to share more of what I’ve learned in my 20-plus years of working with information and data in law firms. In this third season, “be the best data governance lead you can be”. I’ll move beyond the what of season one and the why of season 2 by introducing some of the how and the who. Over the 10 episodes in this season, I’ll share what I’ve learned about using a bottom up approach to achieve your data governance deliverables. I will be talking you through the specific skills and knowledge that can help you be a successful law firm data governance lead, and then building on top of that foundation, I’ll explain how to engage with the people, processes and conversations that will bring your firm on the data governance journey with you.
In this episode, I’m going to talk about change management, what it is, why it’s important for data governance leads to understand it, and how it helps your firm, along with some change management models that I found helpful in implementing a data governance framework in law firms. Change management uses a structured approach to move an organisation from a current state to a future desired state. It’s an adjunct, but distinctly different skill set to project management. It helps you solve your data challenges and to implement your data initiatives by aligning the people and the processes which will meet the firm’s strategic needs.
This is not to be confused with the IT concept of change control, which confusingly is also sometimes called change management. Of course, your firm will need this kind of data change control too, but that’s where comms and your data governance framework groups come in. The concept of change management that I’m talking about is more about planning and introducing new processes and ways of working to the firm. Change management focuses on engaging the people impacted by the change and ensuring that they are supported through the emotional stages of change so that the new way of working has a higher chance of success. A data governance lead needs to have change management skills to help them with all aspects of their role. Convincing someone to accept the role of data steward, or persuading lawyers to adopt new ways of working is hard, and without the right toolkit to support you, it can be difficult to find creative solutions.
There is a book by Chip and Dan Heath called ‘Switch: how to change things when change is hard’. It talks about having to address the rational mindset of the team undergoing the change. The emotional mindset and the environment in which the change will happen. In order for you to make a change successful, you need to balance all three of these elements. A key objective in establishing a data governance capability is to manage data as an asset. This requires in most cases a more significant culture change effort than most senior stakeholders realise. Having the documentation and coordinating the discussion forums are key, but the most critical function that a data governance lead serves is in supporting the culture change across the firm.
Your firm’s data governance Centre of Excellence will set the scope of data related change management and be expected to oversee change management activities. It’s usually the data governance lead that takes most of this on. The kind of organisational behavioural changes I’m talking about are things like helping lawyers make better choices in drop down forms, or even making it easier for them to do the right things by adding quality assurance layers and perhaps even headcounts or technologies to improve the data quality. It is not a natural assumption to say that data governance changes will positively or negatively impact headcount or software costs. Data redundancy and duplication may be removed, but new supporting activities and mechanisms may be required.
If you think about data management as a sausage machine, you need to optimise all of the ingredients and moving parts to get the best possible data for the firm through that machine. So you’re trying to change the way that people think about and interact with the data from its entry through storage and out into usage, re-usage, combination, and transformation.
The idea behind your data governance Centre of Excellence will be to manage and support the changes that the firm needs to ensure the highest quality of data for all of the firm’s activities. And that means making sure that everyone understands and performs their role in creating, managing, protecting, using, archiving, or destroying data. That’s where data governance as an organisational capability comes in; that Data Governance Centre of Excellence. You as a data governance lead, will have a remit to affect behavioural change across the firm. It’s important to be able to plan and manage that change properly.
Now, there are lots of change models available, but for the purposes of a data governance framework, I found that the ADKAR model is most helpful. ‘A’ for Awareness; Explain why the changes needed. ‘D’ for Desire; How can the person you’re talking to benefit from that change? Knowledge; What do they need to know in order to implement the change, the theory? Ability; Are they able to implement the change in practice? Can they fold it into their job? And finally, ‘R’, Reinforcement; Communication, feedback loops and continuous improvement.
The idea is to incrementally bring the person or group through each level of the model. You need to identify where a person is starting from as everyone will be at a different level. The benefit of following the ADKAR model is a change that sticks and is improved on by the people performing the tasks. Change management as a skill is important to support your project management and communications planning. You’ll start to think about breaking your changes into small, discrete steps, which can be motivating wins to enable more improvements for your firm.
You do need to deliberately build the activities and behaviours around data which will set up your data governance framework groups your Centre of Excellence and the firm’s strategy for success. If you are very lucky, you’ll get a dedicated expert change manager to support you, or even to be part of the Data Governance Centre of Excellence, just like project management, change management is a discipline, profession, and career path in its own right.
There is way too much to know about change management for me to be able to cover it in a podcast episode, but there are lots of books and models out there, so I’d encourage everyone who wants to be a data governance lead to have some knowledge of change management. I certainly require it of all the data governance leads that I work with.
Thank you for joining me for this Law Firm Data Governance Podcast episode. I hope you enjoyed it. Please share, like, and review this episode so that more law firm leaders can learn about data governance. Join me next time for Season 3, Episode 3: Communication and Communication Channels, and make sure you never miss an episode by following me on LinkedIn, subscribing wherever you source your podcasts, and if you’ve not already done so, please get in touch if you’ve got topic ideas for future episodes.