Goldilocks Governance – the story of the three bears

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Good governance is the critical success factor in delivering successful outcomes. But how much is enough? Too much and you can stifle innovation and personal accountability; too little and anarchy can pervade. In other words, how can you ensure your governance is in the goldilocks zone!

Once upon a time there was an organisation, Goldilocks Ltd, whose board decided it ought to establish good governance for its project, programme and portfolio environment.

Why? They understood that the APM Body of Knowledge explained that governance refers to the policies, regulations, procedures, responsibilities and relationships which define the establishment, management and control of projects, programmes and portfolios. They also believed that this was critical in the delivery of successful projects and programmes. Their aim was to make each project and programme successful, fulfil the objectives of their portfolio and, therefore, be more profitable.

They clearly had an appetite for good governance that would suit their organisation perfectly. But what and how much governance would be right for them? They weren’t sure so they contacted other organisation boards.

They contacted the board of Big Bear Ltd and found that they had processes and decision-making bodies for everything, written down and robustly deployed and assured. But they were uncomfortable that all decisions seem to be made at the top table with little delegation. And would that suit Goldilocks’ dynamic and innovative culture?

They contacted the board of Medium Bear Ltd and found a different style and approach to governance. Their’s was a less bureaucratic approach with some flexibility and delegation of decision making.

They next contacted the board of Small Bear Ltd and found a very different laissez-faire and light touch approach to governance. Communication lines were very short and everyone in the business worked physically closely together in the same space, unlike the environment at Goldilocks Ltd.

Finally, unsure of which was best for them, the Goldilocks Board contacted APM to see if they could help.

“We can do better than that!” said the APM Governance SIG. “Come along to our Annual Conference on 5th October 2017. Listen to and engage with our wise and experienced experts. They will share their knowledge with you. They will facilitate workshops where you have the chance to discover and appraise different approaches. And in this way, you’ll gain a much better understanding of exactly what’s right for your organisation.”

Goldilocks Governance – getting it right for your organisation. It’s no fairy tale.

What does good governance look like and how do you embed it to deliver consistently successful projects and change? What are the key interventions that organisations have made to embed good governance? Find out more at the APM Governance SIG annual conference on 5th October 2017. Don’t miss it!


Martin Samphire

Posted by Martin Samphire on 12th Jul 2017

About the Author

Martin is the owner and Managing Director of 3pmxl Ltd, a consultancy specialises in helping clients to transform their business using structured P3M approaches.   

Martin is Chairman of the Association for Project Management (APM) Specific Interest Group (SIG) on Governance.  The Governance SIG has developed guidelines for Governance of Project Management, including 'Directing Change', 'Governance of Multi-owned Projects', 'Sponsoring Change' and ‘Directing Agile Change’.  He authored chapter 19 on Governance in the 2nd Edition of the Gower Programme Management Handbook (2016).  He is also a member of a voluntary group, the P3M Data Club.

He has over 30 years management consulting, change, project, programme and portfolio implementation experience in both the private and public sectors - in the UK and internationally.

Martin is a mechanical engineer by training and started his career in major capital project contracting in the petrochemical sector.

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