Bridging Action Research with of Data Governance

Bridging Action Research with of Data Governance
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The Art of Data Governance by Malcolm Fraser.

In the fast-paced digital age, the intersection of action research and data governance is a compelling space where inquiry meets control, discovery melds with standardization, and the scientific process marries systematic management.

At first glance, these domains may appear distinct. Yet, at their core, both emphasize the importance of iterative learning and the pursuit of excellence, albeit in different contexts. So, let's delve into the harmonious confluence of action research and the art of data governance:

1. Shared DNA: Iteration and Improvement

At its heart, action research is about identifying a problem, devising strategies, implementing solutions, and then reflecting upon results. This cyclical approach encourages continuous refinement. Similarly, data governance is not a one-time activity. It requires ongoing evaluation and adaptation, ensuring that data management practices align with evolving business strategies, goals and compliance needs.

2. Collaboration and Stakeholder Involvement

Action research thrives on collaboration, involving all relevant stakeholders in the research process to ensure meaningful results. Similarly, data governance isn’t just the domain of IT. It’s a collaborative effort that involves business users, data stewards, IT professionals, whole supply chains and external partners. Both realms recognize the collective wisdom of diverse groups.

3. Contextual Understanding

Both action research and data governance appreciate the nuances of context. Action research is designed to address issues in a specific context, acknowledging that solutions may differ based on circumstances. Data governance, too, requires an understanding of business context to establish relevant policies and processes.

Eyes like the ocean
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4. Emphasis on Transparency

Action researchers maintain transparency about their methods, challenges, and insights. They understand that for change to be effective and sustained, the journey must be as transparent as the outcome. Data governance echoes this by establishing clear standards, definitions, and processes, ensuring that data users understand data origins, transformations, and quality.

5. Ethical Considerations

Ethical considerations are paramount in action research, ensuring that participants are treated with respect and dignity. Similarly, data governance places a premium on ethical data handling, ensuring privacy, security, and compliance with regulations.

6. Empowerment through Knowledge

Action research empowers communities by arming them with knowledge and actionable insights. Similarly, good data governance empowers organizations by providing trusted, high-quality data that fuels informed decision-making.

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7. Balancing Flexibility with Structure

While action research offers a structured approach to inquiry, it also encourages flexibility, adapting to emerging insights. Data governance, while setting rigid standards, also needs to be flexible enough to cater to the changing data landscape, emerging business needs, and technological advancements.


When we juxtapose action research with data governance, it becomes clear that both domains share a common ethos of iterative learning, stakeholder collaboration, and the pursuit of excellence within context.

By recognizing these shared principles, organizations can approach data governance not merely as a technical challenge but as an evolving art form – a confluence of structure, strategy, and storytelling.

The marriage of action research with the art of data governance underscores the broader narrative of how structured inquiry and rigorous management can coalesce, leading to actionable insights and sustainable growth.

Malcolm Fraser

Malcolm Fraser

I help organizations take a Purpose-Driven approach to Data Governance and create a data culture that enables better decision-making that is aligned with organizational goals and strategies.