Web governance consultant Christine Pierpoint of WelchmanPierpoint discussed types of web governance at the 2010 J. Boye conference in Philadelphia.Web governance is important overall, but it’s especially important for large, content-rich sites that may not be in the direct-sales business. Who gets to make the rules? How are those rules organized and structured? Christine offered three models.
<h2>Top Down Governance</h2>
The first model, Top Down, is unusual but potentially very powerful. It describes an organization in which the highest levels of leadership make decisions about web content and direction. Given that the web is still not mature in the vast majority of industries, the Top Down model means that the web may be in better shape in terms of getting the resources, support, and understanding that it needs in an organization. Furthermore, in some organizations the top may be the only place capable of driving change and innovation.
<h2> Bottom Up Governance </h2>
Bottom Up governance is more common. In this model, lower-level people, many of whom may have more specialized expertise and experience than an organization’s leaders, organize (perhaps with outside consultants and other experts) to provide web suggestions to leadership. This model can work well insofar as it enables both the ‘web folks’ and senior leadership to act most efficiently: web people to work out the details, leadership to make it happen. Dangers, of course, come when leaders don’t buy into a recommendation…or, worse, fail to see its importance.
<h2> Organic Governance </h2>
Fortunately or unfortunately, the Organic model is probably the most common model for web governance overall. It is often the result of a broken Bottom Up attempt–when recommendations go unrecognized, many ‘people in the trenches’ will band together informally and make their own decisions to keep things going. Or, for small organizations or organizations still finding their feet online, it can make the most sense. Disputes need to be settled and decisions need to be made, and oftentimes people doing the work won’t have the time or energy to seek approval to create formal policy.
<h2>Your Turn–What’s Your Governance? </h2>
How are the rules made for your organization’s web? Who makes decisions, and who gets to offer input and advice? How well do the rules work? What happens in case of conflict? How does your governance model affect what you do and the resources you get to do it? Let us know below!