We’re in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is a time of great change. With increasing advancements in technology, companies and organizations now have more tools at their disposal to connect with their customers.

At Salesforce, we are leading our organizations to connect to their customers in new ways. Salesforce Co-CEO Marc Benioff once said, “As a company you need to get to the future first, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them before they arrive.” To do this, you need to understand your customers, anticipate their needs, and a build culture to welcome them when they arrive. And at the heart of this is the ability to move fast and in an agile manner to meet customer needs.

Unfortunately, companies that want to move fast are often held back by governance and compliance processes. According to a Gartner study, 97% of projects experience delays caused by at least one governance function partner. In many instances, companies are operating under governance and guidelines that were created many years ago, before the existence of cloud computing and mobile technology.

There are many governance functions that are put into place to reduce the amount of risk in your organization. But what we find is that these same governance functions are putting organizations at more risk by prohibiting you from delivering at the speed that customers demand. Unfortunately, governance processes often add cumbersome, time-consuming layers of review and approvals that considerably hinder innovation and agility. Let's look at how we got here.

Governance Is Reactive and Additive — Governance piles up on top of itself, over and over again and is often a reaction to a failure. Organizations are good at adding governance processes but bad at removing them.

Organizations Are Risk Averse — History is full of companies that are successful because they took risks. As an enterprise grows, risk-taking declines, which often puts companies at risk of needing to keep up with faster and more nimble competitors.  

Increased Breaches — Governance has come front and center. Headlines about security breaches due to faulty oversight are common. The impact to customer trust can be severe.

Stakeholders Are Expanding — Boards are increasingly interested in issues of risk and security. Individuals without accountability get involved to expand influence.

Working with over 150,000 customers over the past 19 years, we've seen new and innovative thinking, especially when it comes to moving faster through improved governance. These Trailblazers have found a way forward, and that way forward is through a process we call Lean Governance.

The purpose of Lean Governance is to reduce governance activities to the lowest amount possible, and to adjust the amount of governance to match the amount of risk.

The Lean Governance model is providing many benefits. Processes are adjusted to the risk mitigated, reducing costs, increasing speed, and accelerating innovation. Organizations can adapt quickly to meet customer demands and be more agile in development. Leaders are able to spend more time on strategic initiatives, delegating operational activities to teams. And, there are fewer cross-group dependencies, allowing delivery organizations to deliver more value, quickly.

The famous Peter Drucker once said, “There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all.” If you want to move to the future, you may need to stop doing governance like you always have and begin working in new ways. While changing the ways you work does have risk, the reward is great — helping your organization execute faster and be a Trailblazer in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Lean Governance is one way that you can become a digital organization.


To learn more about lean governance and the five trends progressive organizations are embracing to drive change, download this white paper.