Together for better transparency in decision-making

Experienced Solution Designers are master jugglers.  They break down complex problems into multiple projects running concurrently to address root causes. Managing multiple projects means many decision points, many critical deadlines, and several stakeholders with their respective motivations to be addressed.

How to ensure all stakeholders see their motivations acknowledged, while respecting their interest in the decision-making process? Moreover, how to prioritize what happens first, with timely communications to all involved? One good approach to address all those questions is to adopt a Governance Model, which is the mechanism for your organization to transparently keep the balance between its objectives and performance goals across the hierarchical levels and divisions, observing its Values, Mission, and Vision. There are a few frameworks available to build a Governance Model. One example is the COSO© framework, initially suggested as “framework and guidance for enterprise risk management, internal control and fraud deterrence.” COSO© can be extrapolated and adjusted for any framework from which a Governance Model will derive.

A practical example that can be used of how to implement a governance model is the establishment of committees to promote transparency and ensure that all relevant parties have a voice, at the right level, on the organization’s management practices. The committees must comprise the right stakeholders, with the right authority levels, and with the adequate level of involvement in the decision-making process.

Committees can help you build your decision model based on common objectives – the committees should either make an informed decision on behalf of the organization they represent or provide expert advice to another committee or executive in charge of the decision. This is what differentiates Working Committees from Steering Committees. Working Committees have a more operational role, composed of senior managers overseeing processes and other stakeholders engaged in operational activities; these people are closer to the “action.” These committees can provide options to address the issues escalated to the Steering Committees, which might include implementation timelines, resources needed, and impact analysis for each of the proposed solutions.

A recent example of using committees is the newly launched Shared Governance Portal for Vanderbilt University. Vanderbilt invested in a platform for the Vanderbilt community of faculty, students and staff to share information on issues that matter to them, and share best practices from the various governance committees across the Vanderbilt system.

In the case of Vanderbilt University, the Advisory Committees and Working Groups cover a range of topics from programming, digital literacy, accessibility and renewable energy among many others. Each committee shares their initiatives, reports and recommendations to the university on the Vanderbilt website.

Steering Committees are composed of senior leaders who are accountable for making decisions, and benefit from the details provided by the Working Committees. At Vanderbilt University, the committees report up to the Office of Provost. “All segments of the Vanderbilt community are engaged in providing feedback, which is critical to the decision-making process,” Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Susan R. Wente said. “This new website will be a tool for increased engagement and information, as well as a place for those who are serving the university through committees to find guidance on how to be the most effective. Our goal is to enhance outreach, communication and transparency in order to make the most informed decisions about the future of Vanderbilt.”

As seen in the case above, a governance model provides structure to guarantee all relevant parties are represented and all voices are heard. Moreover, it helps to keep responsibilities and deliverables aligned to organizational goals, which is a way to demonstrate that all parties play an important role in a transparent decision-making process – and this is one of the most common requirements of regulatory bodies across the globe.


For more information about governance and the governance model, visit

J. Eduardo Campos, EMPA CISSP CPP (He/Him)

Board Member | Author | Executive Coach | Advisor
Talks about #ciso, #cybersecurity, #executivecoaching, #leadershipdevelopment, and #artificialintelligence