Thu, 16 December 2021
For today’s Salesforce Admins Podcast, we listen in on a conversation between Lead Admin Evangelist J. Steadman and Architect, Developer Relations, René Winkelmeyer as they discuss the importance of Governance within an organization.
Join us as we talk about why it’s a challenge, not a problem, why the people are the process, and how to recognize when it’s OK to start with an imperfect solution.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with J. Steadman and René Winkelmeyer.
Why Governance Is Important
As organizations across the globe are attempting to affect digital transformation, “moving things from paper and manual processes into systems that everyone can access wherever they’re working from,” as J. says, there are some challenges with coordinating around new platforms and other solutions. Everyone needs to know what everyone else is doing and understand what the goals of each piece of technology are.
Governance is the process to solve this collective challenge and help everyone get on the same page. Salesforce is actually a great example of Governance in action, with new people coming in from acquisitions all the time and the need to get everyone in an organization of 75,000 working together effectively. “Governance is really the focus on solving a collective challenge,” René says, “and a big portion of Governance should also be the people—not only the processes.” Governance allows all of our specialists within the organization—sales, service, etc.—to come together and be bigger than the sum of our parts.
Start With a Vision
There are some key principles behind Governance that make it work. The first thing is accountability, responsibility, fairness, and transparency. As René puts it, “who owns what? And can we make a fair share of everything for everyone?” What’s important is being clear about who owns what and giving them the autonomy they need to do it, but also following up with accountability. As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.”
“It may be an overused term, but I think that everyone starts with a vision,” René says, “and it may be something simple—sometimes things are right in front of your face and you don’t see them.” Sometimes it’s as simple as comparing what your current challenges are with why the technology was purchased in the first place. The important conversation that doesn’t always happen is whether or not everyone is on board, and how to get people there if they’re not already.
Why It’s Ok to Get It Wrong
Getting everyone together means starting with a shared understanding of where you need a process and who the expert in that is. “You have to have the courage to let go of your own ego in these conversations to make sure that you are hearing everyone’s perspective,” J. says. Start with the challenge you’ve observed and then ask the team if there needs to be a process to help with it.
At the end of the day, the goal is to put a new system in place that helps you achieve what you’re trying to do. You want to expand ownership and help people be effective together. It’s a conversation, and you need to pay attention to when you should step back and when you should step forward. Sometimes, it’s about helping people gain a broader perspective of the context in which they’re working. Sometimes, it’s about accepting something that might not be ideal now and being ready to change it as things go forward.
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Full Show Transcript
Mike Gerholdt: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. Hey, this week, we're joining in on a conversation with Lead Admin Evangelist, J. Steadman, and Architect Dev Evangelism, René Winkelmeyer, as they talk about the importance of governance in an organization. And let me tell you, they really cover a lot of things. I took a lot of notes during this. I'll include a lot of information in the show notes. It's a very cool conversation. And after they're done, I'll jump back in and give you some final thoughts and highlights. So with that, please welcome J and René to the podcast.
J. Steadman: Thank you, Mike. I'm super happy to be here. I am J. Steadman, Lead Admin Evangelist here at Salesforce. I am joined by René. René, would you like to introduce yourself to our audience of awesome admins?
René Winkelmeye...: Yeah, absolutely. So my name is René Winkelmeyer. I work at the same company that J does, surprise, surprise, and I'm an Architect in the Developer Relations team.
J. Steadman: And thank you so much for joining us, René. Folks out there that are listening, René and I recently started a series of meetings and we just kind of sit down and have coffee and talk about things that are on our minds. And we got into a little bit of a conversation around governance that I found really, really fascinating. And we had a chat with Mike to see whether or not it would be of interest to the admin community. And so, today, what we're going to do is we're just going to talk about the concept of governance, right? Especially in 2021, when Salesforce instances are starting to become really wide and deep technologies and organizations are really trying to kind of move forward with this idea, and we hear this a lot as a buzz word of digital transformation, right?
René Winkelmeye...: Sure. I mean, funny that you meant that you joined with 50,000 when I joined with 19,000.
J. Steadman: Holy smokes.
René Winkelmeye...: Yeah, it's a crazy train ride. It's a great train ride. So the first question is really to understand what is governance, right? And I think this is a term that is used often in different contexts. And so I want to define first what I see as governance and other people may have different opinions, especially also different countries or languages or cultures, what governance can be. I think governance is really, in my opinion, the focus on solving a collective problem, right? This is what we try to achieve. Or a challenge, I think is even the better word, because I don't like the word problem. Yeah. No, it's more a challenge, right? So is there something that is relevant to us as a group that we want to put in some form or shape, right? This is how I try to approach it at least.
J. Steadman: Yeah. I think that's a really interesting and important thing to distinguish, right? This idea that governance is a thing that is done, right? We govern our technologies in the effort to achieve or solve a given problem or a challenge, right? Now you'd mentioned that you don't like the word problem. I really like that. So like we govern to solve a challenge. I was wondering, can you talk to us a little bit about why you don't like the word problem and why you prefer challenge over problem?
René Winkelmeye...: I just feel, it sounds negative.
J. Steadman: Sure.
René Winkelmeye...: Right? So when someone's like, I have a problem, it's just like this... No, I feel a challenge is something that I would love to approach always.
J. Steadman: Ah-ha.
René Winkelmeye...: Right? It's something that is really there like, okay, I can solve this and I can tackle this. And problem sounds always so negative to me. So I'm pretty sure whenever you find a recording, a video or just we have a chat, you will really rarely hear that I will say problem, right? I really try to avoid that because there is no such thing as a problem.
J. Steadman: I'm making a note to review everything that you've ever recorded, and I'm going to find every instance of the word problem that you've used.
René Winkelmeye...: Yeah. You do that.
J. Steadman: I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.
René Winkelmeye...: Well, that'll be like, whatever. Binge watching René 200 hours sounds really amazing. Right? I would not do that to myself.
J. Steadman: Yeah. I love this idea, right, is we're working with various different stakeholder groups, which is what we're talking about when we're talking about how we govern. I think the cultural aspect of that is really, really important. You mentioned that it is people as well as processes that we follow. When you look at using Salesforce as an example, of course, there are those of us that may be on the Salesforce, like core side of things. There may be folks that are coming from Slack as you called out. And as we communicate with them using terms like challenge, instead of problem, what we're doing is crafting culture, right? We're creating a vocabulary to communicate with others that I think, it actually is powerful and it fosters this idea of collaboration. So I'm going to keep that in the back of my head, as we explore the rest of this conversation, like where can we make these little adjustments that can improve the way in which we're communicating across these little gaps between functional groups. I like that a lot.
René Winkelmeye...: So I think, from my perspective, there are a couple of principles what make governance, right? The first one that comes to my mind is accountability or responsibility and fairness and transparency, right? So these are things where I really look at, if we want to set up something that falls into, for example, building a service, working around a process, it's really coming together as a team and following these principles on who owns what, right? And can we make a fair share of everything for everyone, because at the end... I make a small segue.
J. Steadman: Yeah.
René Winkelmeye...: Right? It's really a conversation. It's really a conversation to figure out, we want to do A, okay, let's see how we can do that and who will own that, right?
J. Steadman: Yeah.
René Winkelmeye...: I'm a big fan of saying, okay, I'm giving you a bit more leash, right? That's more how we say it in Germany. You have more freedom to do something, but you're also accountable and responsible for that, right?
J. Steadman: Sure.
René Winkelmeye...: Compared to, oh, I put more structure around you so that you can't move left and right. But that then just decreases the accountability and the responsibility. That's not fair to people. And also, that really prevents from growing great humans, right? So more freedom is great.
J. Steadman: Yeah. Growing great humans. I like that phrase a lot, growing great humans. Something that pops out to me, René, in the way that you're explaining this is, the way that you have explained process and procedure, in some cases sounds a little bit like a confinement, right? Whereas people coming together and collaborating with one another, having conversations about what it is that they want to do and how they want to do it, there is some freedom in that, right?Now with freedom comes responsibility, the old Spider-Man or Peter Parker adage, right? I am trusting you to go and do this thing. So now you're accountable to do that thing. So do it responsibly, do it safely and do it well.
René Winkelmeye...: That's a big question to answer. It may be an overused term, but I think it really starts, everything, with a vision, right? You have to have this idea on what you want to achieve. And maybe it can be something super simple, right? Sometimes though things are just in front of your face and you don't see them, absolutely not. And I think the really important part is to have this compelling vision that must not be earth shaking, but really focusing on the challenge to solve. And that is just transparently meeting with people and figuring out if they would buy in or not, right?
J. Steadman: Yes. Yeah. Okay.
René Winkelmeye...: It's just simple that. And it's okay to receive a no, right, because then your idea or vision may be not that great, or they may be not the right people. And then that's fine, right? I think all of that belongs also into this, just because I think my idea is great, it doesn't mean that you have to find my idea great. Right?
J. Steadman: Yeah. Yeah. I love this idea. In my life, as an admin working in my own Salesforce org, that was also in a highly-regulated industry, I found what you're talking about to be absolutely true in our experience. At my company, we needed to present the challenge that we were facing, right? So to be specific about my use case, I had many business units that each shared this one multi-tenant Salesforce org. And we had like 13 different companies that were all sharing this one org, they were all owned by the same parent company. And we weren't talking to each other at all. We were all just in an org and doing stuff, right? And it took people, an admin or two talking to a developer, maybe at the water cooler, maybe in the lunchroom identifying a challenge.
René Winkelmeye...: Oh, that's also another big question. I feel this is a podcast of the big questions for René. You should prewarn me, I believe.
J. Steadman: Oh, I'm sorry. [crosstalk]. I just sent René a message on Slack and I was like, "Hi, I'm J, come do this podcast." And that's how we got here. That's how we're here right now.
René Winkelmeye...: Absolutely. I will pay you back once we're back in person, I hope. Really, the way that I approach it over time, and I had to learn that when I was a consultant back many, many, many, many years ago, it's really not trying to force, right? I think this is really the most important aspect that I try in everything that I do is not to force my idea, right? It's really, here's an idea. Here's something that I think we should solve, or here's an opportunity actually on how we can do things better. And it needs to be an open conversation without trying to press it. That's really what it is, right?
J. Steadman: This is really fascinating to me. I'm a very passionate person, right? Like I get an idea where I identify what I see as an obstacle. And one of the challenges that I have just as a human being is, I'm like, yo, here's this thing. We need to solve that. Yo, everyone, let's go and do that right now. Right? In other words, I get really passionate. It's hard for me not to force an idea. It's hard for me not to see this opportunity to improve and hope and push for a conclusion to that as I have my conversations, right? And like you, I'll highlight some facts and I'll bring it to the table.
René Winkelmeye...: Well, I wish I would have like the golden solution for that because it's always, as usual, not easy.
J. Steadman: Yeah, of course.
René Winkelmeye...: The way that I look at that when I, and not looking at the small things, because the small things can be solved pretty quickly, maybe it's because I'm German, right? So, prewarning for that. But I'm a big fan of having everything data driven, right, because then you have a solid, common understanding, which I think is the first really important part that everyone understands the problem, that it's not, oh, René had this assumption. No, it's like here are the facts, then enrich that eventually with assumptions, right? And this is what you mentioned really well before, J, is then getting feedback on those assumptions, potentially from those groups or other stakeholders, your people leader and refining that. And then laying that over with what are the challenges that we try to solve with that, that we see, maybe in your case, this instance, and here's your solution that we want to apply. But at the same time, also, highlighting the risk that may go along if you don't do that.
J. Steadman: The cost of doing nothing.
René Winkelmeye...: Yeah. I would say I disagree, because there is not a cost of doing nothing. I think it needs to be a good... You have to understand where is the higher risk, right, if you don't do something or if you do something, which I think is really important, right? If you have the status quo, which you don't like in your case, right, you think the status quo is to change, then you have to assess the risk, right? What is my risk tolerance for not doing it and leaving as is, or what is the risk when we do that and which risk is higher and which risk do I want as the person or the group or the organization that owns that actually to take, right? Because sometimes it's totally fine to take a certain risk by not doing anything.
J. Steadman: This is I think, really important information for admins out there, right? So I just want to summarize what I've heard and, René, please correct me if I'm getting any of this wrong-
René Winkelmeye...: Wrong, wrong, wrong.
J. Steadman: But as we think about having conversations where we're trying to introduce the challenges that we may face, it's really important to start those conversations with our understanding of the facts and the data and share those facts and those data with other stakeholders that we think would be important to the conversation. We want to enrich those observations with some assumptions, which we can also introduce in these conversations that we have with various stakeholders. Then we want to see what they have to say about it, which is going to refine our observations and assumptions. And hopefully, at that point, we're getting people together, they're having conversations. And that's where we're starting to take a look at potential solutions and also assess the risks of doing something different or not doing something different. Is that a pretty fair representation of the way that you just explained things?
René Winkelmeye...: That was perfect. I couldn't have done it better.
J. Steadman: Well-
René Winkelmeye...: Maybe you can do it next time.
J. Steadman: I love being told I'm perfect. I want to be very clear. You're free to ask me questions too. If you've got questions for me, I'll answer those questions to the best of my human ability.
René Winkelmeye...: I'm totally fine with that. And on purpose, I avoided the word perfect, which you potentially recognized. Right? There are a couple of words that I try to avoid, which is problem and perfect, because none of that should exist.
J. Steadman: Yeah. No, absolutely. Perfection is a fiction, right? So this is great, right? What you've introduced to us is a way that we can... Like that's a framework that we can use if, like me, admins out there are really passionate about trying to improve things. And sometimes that passion can actually get in the way and cause some noise in our conversations, right?
René Winkelmeye...: Another big question. Thank you, J. Thank you.
J. Steadman: You're welcome.
René Winkelmeye...: I hope I have a radio voice. Yeah. Yeah. So I would say the biggest question that I always ask myself, do we actually need a process, right? And I say that as a German, do we need actually a process? Or do we need a regulation around that? When you bring the different people together, you actually have the opportunity to shape your original idea and potentially realize it or make it something totally different. But when you bring those people together, it's really taking those different perspectives, as you mentioned, not only from the, I would say socializing and scoping phase, but also then in the relation phase on what do we really want to do, right? What is the business benefit if we really take this? Because often when we try to implement something, it is first that we have this idea. We define the value. We potentially have some ideas on ROI. I think this needs all to be on the table to figure that out, if this really comes together, like the assumption that we made, the solution that we potentially already provided is the real thing.
J. Steadman: Yeah.
René Winkelmeye...: I have maybe a good idea on that, but there is then that person who actually does that day by day, right? And those who will be affected by some governance that we may implement. And I feel those should have a big say. Coming back to what I said in the introduction, it's about humans, right?
J. Steadman: Yeah.
René Winkelmeye...: We don't want to create bad processes for good people. It should be that we create good frameworks for good people. And it's really important to have those always on board and have a good say. Definitely. Right? So not top down, it's not a top down approach.
J. Steadman: René, you're a genius. I'm sitting here and writing a lot of notes just to make sure that I can actually summarize. What's brilliant, I think about the way that you just explained that is, you laid out this amazing framework and then you're like, I don't really have this framework to work from, but... So there are a few things that I want to highlight about what you said, and then I want to try and summarize it. And again, you tell me if I get anything wrong, right?
René Winkelmeye...: Challenges, challenges. Sorry, challenges.
J. Steadman: Thank you. Thank you, René. Thank you. I love it. We should have like a sound effect, like... As I'm working with challenges with a group, we can start to get really possessive of our ideas or possessive of being the person to solve. And oftentimes that can come from being afraid that maybe we don't know the right answer. So first I'd say, as we're approaching the idea of having conversations around, do we need a process, et cetera, be vulnerable. Walk into the room, recognizing the amazing people that you're working with, whether or not you get along with them personally. There are brilliant people that you are interacting with and you have to have the courage to kind of let go of your own ego in these conversations to make sure that you are hearing everyone's perspective, right?
René Winkelmeye...: I'm not sure if it's a framework, right? There needs to be a structural... I feel a lot that comes back to the time when I was a business process consultant, where it was really about... That's like, what, 12, 30 years ago, where I was organizing loan departments and service centers and banks, and really trying to make those people who worked there and, also, the companies transparently successful and efficient and effective. That was not only like, oh, here's a consultant. Here's my predefined concept. That's how you're going to do that. Right? It was really sitting together with those people and doing what you really do, right? You interview people, you do the on-the-job observations, all that stuff that you do to really understand on how it goes. And then workshop with them for often weeks on really, how could the new shape look like, right? This is really the common approach to say... I had no idea about some of their business, period. Right? But I had to know how to steer the group to actually come to a hopefully good result, right?
J. Steadman: Sure. Sure. There is so many ideas that you've touched on in that response, right? So this idea that you've just introduced, sometimes you are involved actively, right? You've actually got a hand in things and sometimes you're just there to kind of help facilitate conversation, right? Facilitator as opposed to doer or being the glue of a conversation, trying to help connect people together so that a problem can be solved versus being a subject matter expert who may actually be hands on in crafting what the solution is, that speaks to this idea of flexibility, right? Being open enough to know when you can step back, when you can step forward, hearing when there is an opportunity for you to be the subject matter expert, hearing when there is an opportunity for you to step back and listen a little bit more and connect somebody, who's a subject matter expert with somebody else who might be able to assist in crafting the solution.
René Winkelmeye...: EV team? EV? EV-
J. Steadman: Evangelists. Evangelists.
René Winkelmeye...: No acronyms. We just learned that. Thank you.
J. Steadman: Thank you. Thank you.
René Winkelmeye...: We don't say problem.
J. Steadman: René, thank you. I really appreciate you highlighting these things and bringing them to my attention. That's very kind of you.
René Winkelmeye...: You're welcome.
J. Steadman: There's that sound effect again. We talk about the idea of observation, right? Like user observation, so that we can ride along with our users, understand what they're trying to do day by day, week by week, so that we can use that information that we gather in order to maintain, enhance our Salesforce instance. And you brought up the idea that, as a consultant, you could ride along with a stakeholder for sometimes weeks, right? And as a consultant, I found myself in a similar situation, right?
René Winkelmeye...: I love this sound on my mobile phone.
J. Steadman: I'll send you an audio clip.
René Winkelmeye...: Amazing. Thank you. I'm not sure if I have a really good answer on that transparently. I think it really comes to the point on where I feel that I have enough information or I have the room for that. It also comes up to being open and transparent and to say, okay, if we do this, we will do that with less information than we should have to make an educated decision. Right? If you're grown up, you should be able to do that, definitely. Even if you sometime think you should not, depending who has requests, but I always felt empowered for whom and who I worked with to say, yeah, but we can do this, but we should not. And potentially just wait, which is sometimes not an option also, right? And then we just have to juggle along.
J. Steadman: Yes.
René Winkelmeye...: Right?
J. Steadman: Yeah. Yeah.
René Winkelmeye...: That's also buying in the risk, right? It's like, okay, we've got to do it now. And then we have a better business outcome and we're going to change it for even better in four month. Right? So it's an interim solution and that's totally fine.
J. Steadman: I'm hearing so many of the ideas that you're talking about interacting with one another, right? In full disclosure for everyone that is listening, when we came together for this conversation, A, all of the questions that are being posed here, they're totally spontaneous. And B, we don't have any answers written down. So when René is like, huh, I don't have an answer for that, that's because I've totally ambushed René with a variety of questions that I think are just interesting to explore. And I don't even have an answer in mind myself, right?
René Winkelmeye...: Only if you promise to never say the word problem again.
J. Steadman: I can promise to try my best, to raise my awareness, to abolish the word problem from my vocabulary.
René Winkelmeye...: It'll take time. I can tell you from my own experience, right? But yeah, I believe in you.
J. Steadman: Just being transparent with you. I can try. I'm just being transparent. I'll try.
René Winkelmeye...: Thank you. I believe in you.
J. Steadman: Well, admins, thank you so much for sitting through our conversation and joining us today. I always love the opportunity to sit down and chat with y'all. If you have any questions, thoughts, concerns, things that we missed, things that you think, please do reach out to us on social. We are on Twitter. I am on Twitter. René is on Twitter. And we want to hear from you. So please do reach out to us.
Mike Gerholdt: Well, it was great to have J and René on the podcast. Wasn't that a fun conversation? Boy, they know a lot. I took a lot from that conversation. I think a few things tongue in cheek, it's a challenge, not a problem. So let's look at things that way because problem does feel negative. And I think it's very important to consider governance is important, the people as the process. I really enjoyed that topic. I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I thought it was neat. I'm trying to introduce different and unique content to the podcast. So let me know your opinions. Feel free to tweet us out. And of course, if you want to learn more about all things Salesforce Admin, go to admin.salesforce.com to find more resources.
Direct download: Governance_with_J._Steadman_and_Rene_Winkelmeyer.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT