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As i understand it, governance is the strategic task of defining an organization's goals, direction, limitations and accountability which sounds similar to a strategy however people seem to refer to them differently.

Is there a difference between a project's governance and its strategy or are they one and same thing and it's simply semantics?

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I really love Wikipedia for definitions:

In summary: Governance includes everything to rule the project while strategy describes the way to achieve the project's goal.

Having this, the project's governance should support or even follow a strategy in order to achieve the project's goal.

A project's strategy might be to apply a waterfall method and (e.g. due to a bad contract situation) to perform a strict claim and change management.

The organisation, represented by management and / or PMO might support this strategy by providing rules and infrastructure to set up a management board and a change board to support the PM. PM, the boards, PMO, management, financial controlling, etc. realise / perform the projects government.

  • When you say rules, what would be examples as well as examples of strategy? – Motivated Dec 26 '15 at 7:09
  • Yes it does. Are there good examples/references to governance and strategy models that are detailed? – Motivated Dec 26 '15 at 7:45
  • I don't know any documented examples in literature. Due to the individuality of a project esp. a projects strategy it will be difficult to define a general How To if you a searching this. Finally the question is: How can or does an organisation support a projects strategy? Usually, the org rules are established before a projects strategy is defined. So you might try to go the bad way and search a strategy that fits into the org ruleset. – Tob Dec 26 '15 at 7:53
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Governance is a verb. Governance is how you make decisions, how you govern.

Strategy is what you want to do; strategy is the future you're hoping to get and the path you need to get there. Strategy is frequently encapsulated in strategic plans, tactical plans, vision statements, and even in project charters.

A contrived example; every company has a strategy for hiring. Some companies won't hire until they have > 100% FTE work (meaning that there is no "bench" and everyone is constantly slightly overworked). Other companies will hire based on potential (meaning that sometimes they are paying someone who is not billable - "bench"). Some companies will hire "on spec" before the contract is awarded, some companies hire junior people on the assumption that they'll grow into the position; other companies hire only perfectly qualified people. Those are all hiring strategies.

But that is different from how they make decisions. If a company's strategy is to hire only when the work exceeds the staff by more than 1 FTE someone has to make that decision. Someone has to measure the current work, the current staffing level and decide that the difference is greater than an FTE. Some companies make that decision autocratically - the hiring manager decides. Other companies have senior leadership team that decides. Some companies delegate the decision down to the hiring manager, others require consultation or approval from various stakeholders.

Governance is how you make decisions, who is involved, whether the decision is consultative, advisory or autocratic, whether the decision is transparent or not, etc. Governance frequently involves a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) chart.

Strategy defines the future you want, and the path you take to get there. Governance defines how you make decisions along the path.

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