No one in IT wants to talk about Governance.  Why?  Because no one has a consistent clue what it is, and those folks that venture a guess usually come up with something frightening, overbearing, and/or expensive.

Good old FUD (“Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”).  A great way to spoil your day.

Some words get overused.  SOA has been overused, although there is now a consensus on what it means, which means we can actually keep using it.  Other words, like alignment, and strategy, have so many different meanings that they can be twisted to mean “something good that I’m doing.” 

“Governance” went the other way.  It is a word that has become synonymous with “something bad that you shouldn’t do if you want to ship your code on time.”  Except in the SOA world, where it means something altogether different.

Governance is basically a system of processes and decision rights that reinforce the good behavior of the organization and help to maintain balance between the passionate creative brain-stormers and the careful, conservative, dependables.  It is a system that fosters creativity while restraining wild thrashing.  Governance keeps good things in the mix while preventing bad things from happening.

It is not software for monitoring uptime.  It is not a process of oversight and financial audits.  Most of all, it is not a system that squeezes every idea until any spark of creativity is winked out. 

Governance is a good thing.  Unfortunately, we need to come up with another word.  This word is no good anymore.

How about “Constrained Empowerment”?  🙂