A List – 10 Anti Predictions for 2013


Here’s a slideshare version of this post … http://www.slideshare.net/ChrisWalker7/a-list-10-anti-predictions-for-2013

  1. We’ll stop talking about social as if it’s something new.
  2. Everyone will understand the cloud.
  3. No one will buy anyone.
  4. Social networks’ terms of service will be transparent, easy to understand, and favour the user.
  5. People will stop caring about the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, and the Royals.
  6. RIM will be sold off in pieces, like black market organs.
  7. No one will dust off an idea from 20+ years ago, give it a new acronym, and call it new / the next big thing.
  8. Procurement departments will focus on value instead of cost.
  9. No one will sue anyone.
  10. BYOD

Pen & Notebook

Gamification – Dumbest made-up word ever?


WARNING: This post contains swear words. They’re there ‘cause of my mood when I wrote this in reaction to a gamification discussion. I’m all better now, thanks. 

This was originally posted on AIIM

Of all the buzzwords & acronyms being bandied about out there, “gamification” pisses me off above all others (maybe it deserves a shiny badge). I cringe whenever I hear it or read it. It cheapens what I and others have worked our asses off to achieve in our careers. It reminds me of the fat kid in grade 6 that got a ribbon because he managed an astonishing 7 situps in 1 minute (for the record, it wasn’t me). As a professional, equating my work with games, however obliquely, insults me. Games are what I play with my friends and family.

I was raised to work hard, though I didn’t always do so as a student. At school you worked to get the grades and not spend more than one year per grade. If you were the smartest kid in school you may have gotten an exemption from finals, a scholarship, or beat up.  Professionally, you worked hard (and smart, I hope) to get your stuff done and get ahead. If you didn’t get your stuff done you were rewarded with time off ‘cause they fired your ass for being deadwood, and you deserved it. Rewarding / recognizing people for doing just enough to get from grade 3 to 4 or to keep their jobs (reward enough, I say) is sheer lunacy.

My kids don’t get rewarded for just doing stuff that’s expected of them (e.g.: cleaning their rooms, picking up after pets, doing well in school). They get rewarded for exceptional behaviour & performance; the rest is just life. I don’t get rewarded for just showing up and doing my job in an ordinary, expected way. I get rewarded when I perform above expectations. If I or my kids don’t meet expectations in our respective roles bad things happen. Such is life.

The key, my fellow planetarians, is to set the expectations early and define what one need do to earn the rewards / recognition. Apparently, doing the dishes does not automatically entitle me to “get some”, but if I don’t do them it’s automatic that I won’t? WTF is that about? Anyways …

I have no objection to reward & recognition schemes. In fact, I’ve received and doled out plenty of recognition (the positive kind) over the years. Rewards / recognition have been tangible (e.g.: bonus $, raise, promotion, time off, gift cards) and intangible (peer/client/manager figurative pats on the back). Most people, me included, are happy to receive them. But we’ve generally received them because we’ve performed exceptionally or taken on additional responsibilities. I can’t recall one instance in my career where I’ve given or received a reward for simply doing my job. It’s just not something that makes any sense to me.

Like I said, rewarding / recognizing people for exceptional performance or taking on additional responsibilities is fine. In fact, it’s a freakin’ critical thing to do because it helps to motivate people and keep them interested in their work. It can also help motivate the unexceptional to become exceptional. I truly believe that it’s a necessary thing to do and that it benefits all involved.

One of the areas that [the word I hate] is being linked to is social collaboration (which also sucks ass as a term because how the hell are you gonna collaborate if you’re not being social), especially as related to identifying experts. It works like this:

  1. Say something not completely stupid.
  2. Someone, who may or may not be stupid, rates your stuff (or gives you a badge or a cookie or a pin, who cares?).
  3. Someone else sees the rating, and being equally as stupid, or not, bugs your ass for your opinion or for help.

Uh, WTF? I do good work and get “rewarded” by more people bugging me? What kind of psycho place is this?

Identifying experts is good. It helps those seeking advice by providing resources to tap. It helps those providing advice by making them think a bit more and pushing them to be better (and the ego stroking likely doesn’t hurt). But calling it [the word I hate] does everyone a disservice. Experts have worked extremely hard to get where they are, and many truly enjoy what they do and helping others. The folks looking for advice are likely stuck on something that may or may not be hugely important. I’m not certain that anyone involved wants their situation or efforts equated to playing games.

When I write a post I don’t write it to garner likes, +1’s, follower, or increase my Klout score (Klout is Krap, IMO). I write because I have something to say that I think and hope will benefit someone, or at least make them think. If someone provides positive feedback I appreciate it. If someone provides negative feedback I appreciate that too and try to be better the next time (unless they’re just being a dick). If someone reaches out and asks for advice, an opinion, or help, I provide it gladly with no expectation of getting a badge or biscuit. I do it because I am social just like every one of you reading this. Sometimes I write because I get pissed off and need to get something off my chest. On those occasions feel free to ignore me, just like my wife and kids do when I go all bat-shit crazy over something.

As a consumer, I love [the word I hate], but prefer to call it loyalty rewards or some such. I like going out and spending money on stuff, getting points, and using the points to get more stuff for FREEEEEE!!! I also like discounts, upgrades, and complimentary in-flight hookers (not available on domestic flights). But when it comes to me spending money that I’ve worked hard to earn, don’t equate it to playing games.

I’ll give [the word I hate] a little slack on social media & social networks. Earning “stuff” on Facebook (was thoroughly disillusioned to learn that “poking” wasn’t nearly as exciting as I’d imagined) games, Foursquare, Klout, …, doesn’t bug me, mainly because I don’t take them all that seriously (like I do my work & my family).

[Added 2012-06-20 …

On the corporate side, there’s a few areas where I think [the word I hate] is apt:

  1. Projects requiring participation of people that have “real” jobs;
  2. Organizational change management;
  3. User adoption.

When you pull staff onto a project they’re still typically expected to do their day jobs. They’re also generally not used to working on projects; there’s a huge change in dynamics from doing an operational role (e.g.: claims processing) to being the subject matter expert in JAD (Joint Application Design) sessions for a new claims system. Doing something as seemingly insignificant as awarding a prize for the best project name can reap huge dividends.

Organizational change management and user adoption are other areas where it pays to “play”. Adapting to new tools and methods is not easy for most people. Even if people hate the tools and methods they’ve been using, they’re used to them and some really are resistant to change. Providing people with goals, tools to reach them, and incentives for reaching them is a good thing. [The word I hate] won’t make the transition any easier, but it ought to serve to get the participants more involved and also provide them with a way to measure their progress.

…]

Give me a raise or a bonus, give me a pat on the back, ask me for my “expert” opinion / advice; I’m cool with all those things if I’ve earned them. Just don’t equate what I do professionally to playing games. Maybe I’m just a grumpy old bastard. If so, I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s not the application of game theory I hate; it’s the label we’ve given it. When applied to so many aspects of our lives I find it diminishes us, our efforts, and our accomplishments.

Note: none of this applies to people who actually play games for a living. E.g.: Bowling, darts, pool. I don’t care what channel they’re televised on, they are not sports.

BYOD – Run What Ya Brung


This was originally posted on the AIIM Community on 2012-05-30.

In the interests of full disclosure; I use a corporately issued laptop, a self-provisioned smartphone (employer pays service), a self-provisioned tablet, and a personal laptop. My tablet, while being hugely convenient and making my life easier, is not necessary for me to live or work. This post was written using my personal laptop and tablet. I used MS Word and OnCloud to write it. The Word file is stored on Google Drive. Yeah, I believe in BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). I also think the cloud’s a good thing.

One day I’d really like to see what percentage of the overall workforce really needs to bring their own device to work, or would even benefit (need vs want) from doing so. 9-5ers, bank tellers, receptionists (can we still call them that?), gov’t front counter staff, fast food employees, gas station attendants, call centre staff, billing clerks, accounts payable clerks, refuse collection agents, … these and a whole bunch more jobs have no stake in BYOD.

Anyone whose work ties them to a desk, executing fairly structured tasks can get by quite nicely with whatever hardware their employer has plunked down for them (assumes that HW and apps are suitable for the job). Oh, they may want to bring in their tablets or smartphones, load up on apps, and do their work from the sidewalk while having a cigarette. But I really don’t give a rat’s ass and neither should you. Can you honestly tell me that someone who processes invoices is going to benefit from being able to do so on a tablet instead of on a PC? I thought not.

Don’t get me wrong; I am not diminishing the value of the jobs that people do or what they contribute to their organizations and/or society at large. What gets me is this whole consumerization of IT thing that’s going on. The next time you hear “I have such cool gadgets at home, why can’t I have them at work?”, consider this answer; “YOU DON”T BLOODY NEED IT!!!”. You know what they need? They need the right information, proper training & support, a decent organizational culture, paths for self-fulfilment, and recognition that what they do means something.

On the other hand, there are many job functions that can definitely benefit from BYOD. Most of you reading this are probably in one. I’m in one of those roles, but there’s still lots of stuff that I need to do at work that can’t get done on my phone or tablet. When I say that, I mean it’s either just not possible or so cumbersome as to be not worth the effort. Taking meeting notes, writing docs, & emailing are all pretty good on my tablet, a little less so on my phone. Running demos, drawing diagrams, entering timesheets, and doing expenses just can’t be done. That does not mean I will give up my tablet or phone. Hell no! What it means is that unless my job changes I am going to have to be content with running multiple devices to get my job done. Oh, I could just go back to using only my laptop, but that would be silly.

Assuming BYOD is the right path …

Security and privacy are major concerns. What’s going to happen if someone loses their tablet or phone? What’s going to happen if there is a discovery order or FOI request and employee procured devices are in scope? Employees who use their own devices are going to be accessing & storing corporate content as well as personal content on the same device. Some of them are going to let friends and family use those devices for all sorts of stuff. You can’t tell your employees not to because they paid for the devices. What are you gonna do about it?

One of the really nice things about having a tablet or smartphone is that I can be mobile. That means that I don’t need to be connected to my corporate LAN and I can still get the stuff I need to do my work. Not all the stuff, but most of it. It’s not just content that I’m referring to, it’s applications as well. If you’re going to make a move to BYOD it’s on your shoulders to make sure that your team has access to the content, applications, and processes that they need to do the job. If your BYOD is limited to a single platform (e.g.: iOS) you may be lucky because you’ll only need to provision apps that work on a limited set of devices. If, however, you’re going true BYOD, well … you could run into some difficulty. Not only are you going to have to deal with security and privacy issues, you’ll also have to get into the app development business, unless there are already apps available from the usual sources (which I really doubt). I’ve used apps developed by organizations that theoretically work across multiple devices; many have fallen short and the user experience simply sucks. Oh, those apps you’re going to build will have to be integrated to those line of business systems your organization runs to get stuff done. Think of them as additional UI’s and functions that you’ll need to build, maintain, and support.

Another nice thing about BYOD, depending on your perspective, is that lotsa people have their favourite device(s) with them pretty much all the time. That means they can respond to stuff from bed, the beach, while watching TV, while watching the kids at the playground (saw this woman almost get smoked by her kid on a swing while she was occupied with her iPhone – yes, I would have laughed), what/where/whenever. It’s really cool that you can get someone to respond at anytime, but remember that YOU ARE INFRINGING ON THEIR PERSONAL TIME. Granted that it’s likely their fault because they’re using the same device to watch Formula 1 videos on Youtube and respond to RFP’s but you can’t do anything about it because I bought the device so there. Nyah. Nyah, nyah! Sorry. Anyways, there are times that folks need to respond immediately, and BYOD certainly facilitates this. But, there are also time when folks need to chill without worrying about work. You’re the boss so I expect you to set the right tone and provide the right example.

So what’s my point? BYOD is a good thing in the right circumstances. Refuse collection specialists won’t benefit, but knowledge workers and field staff likely will. It’s also a pretty safe bet that if you allow your people to work with tools that they actually like and see as cool, they’ll be a bit happier and maybe even a bit more productive.

BYOD is appropriate based on the role, not the organization. In my job as a consultant it’s perfectly reasonable to allow me to use whatever device I choose. However, the same can’t be said for the people that process invoices, even though they bring as much value to the organization as anyone else. Have at ‘er and consider the following before going all BYOD:

  1. Are devices your major issue? You’re freakin’ lucky if they are. Most orgs have way more serious stuff going on than what can be solved by allowing someone to do their job on a tablet.
  2. Can you secure your stuff properly? My wife doesn’t want to see quarterly sales projections and my boss doesn’t want to see my wife & I [fill in the blank with whatever you want, you dirty devil, you].
  3. Do you want to get into app development? You do? How many platforms & form factors & screen sizes/resolutions do you want to develop for? Oh, and support? And maintain?
  4. Privacy. Closely related to the security thing. Yes, they are different. Go look it up if you don’t believe me.
  5. If you go BYOD, can your users still access everything they need to do their work?
  6. What’s the impact to employee working hours going to be? They’ll have the gadgets with them 24/7, will you expect them to be available/reactive 24/7? Shame on you if you will.

I’m not saying that BYOD is a bad thing, just think about it a bit before you commit.

Customer Experience – Gotta Do Better


Originally posted on AIIM

Many, many years ago I lived not far from the hardware store that used to be here. (My favourite barber was in the same complex. They let you smoke, served espresso, and had a pile of out-of-date Penthouse.) I really liked that hardware store, but abandoned it when one of those big-ass, everything-under-one-roof, meg-gigantic (by Canadian standards) box stores opened up. I remember the excitement and anticipation leading up to the grand opening (actually, I don’t, but this story wouldn’t be nearly as compelling if I didn’t embellish just a wee bit). It mattered not that the monogigantilithic store was a further 8 minutes away. It was worth it! We were going to have every conceivable hardware, lawn care, renovation, major appliance, and home improvement item known to human-kind under one roof. At prices that can’t be beat. Well, bugger that!

It seems that this retailer forgot to include a couple of key items: product knowledge and customer service. Oh sure, you could ask a staff member (in 1 of Canada’s official languages) where an item was and they’d send you off in the right general direction. You could even ask them product oriented questions and if they’d read the correct documentation you’d likely get a reasonable answer. But what you couldn’t get (as a standard practice) was that feeling that you were valued as a customer and, more importantly, as a person. How could this be fixed? you may well ask. Easy …

I returned to the more expensive, closer to my house hardware store. You see, when I went in wondering about paint choices and application techniques they talked to me. Hell, they even listened to me. When my wife and I bickered about paint or whatever, the staff provided the voice of reason and helped us make the right choice for our situation. When I returned they knew me enough to ask about how my project, whatever it happened to be, turned out. They offered crappy coffee and a human touch. I was even able to chat with other customers.

What does all this have to do with customer experience today, you may ask? Everything. We’re still people who like to connect with other people. There’s a certain humanness and sociability that we look for in our lives. Certainly we sometimes like the convenience of online shopping in our (or our partner’s) underwear from the comforts of our homes, but I like to believe that we still want and need that contact with other people.

I’m not for a second saying that we need to replicate that intimate experience online (except for certain sites of an adult nature); it’s impossible. What we need to do is redefine how excellent customer experience is delivered online. We need to understand that true customer experience involves multiple channels, without the customer having to repeat themselves again and again and again.

I’m going to close with a couple of examples from a big name retailer. They’re two stories about two very different experiences, make of them what you will…

Back in December my wife and I went Christmas shopping for our daughter. Our daughter is a voracious reader, who turned 12 years old earlier this month. We wanted to get her some books that were a bit different from her usual fare. Kerry (the staff member whose name I remember because she was really cute) spent several minutes with us asking about our daughter’s preferences and our thoughts on what we felt were appropriate topics for her to read. Kerry made some recommendations that proved to be spot on. Well done, Kerry!

Same retailer, different channel … To date I’ve purchased about $300 of ebooks from this retailer. One of the things I like is that they make recommendations about what I may like to try next. What I dislike, vehemently, is that they keep recommending titles that I have previously purchased. Repeatedly.

Do you see my point? Do you feel my pain (uhm, irritation is probably more accurate)?

Come Together


Like Adam said to Eve; “Stand back, I’m not sure how big this thing’s gonna get.”

Over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking/ranting/blogging/tweeting about unstructured content, social business, systems of record (SOR), Systems of Engagement (SOE), mobile stuff, and the whole thing about going paperless. What I’ve concluded is that it’s all seemingly one big inextricable mess. It really isn’t, though. I think the key pieces are Systems of Record/Engagement (SOR/E) and interoperability (CMIS, Integration for the smarty-pantses reading this).

Regardless of what some want / think, we’re not going to ever be 100% paperless even though it makes lots of business sense. The uproar over the mobile thing is a temporary distraction caused by all the new devices we have at our disposal to create “stuff” and interact with it.

SOR/E’s and interoperability are where it’s at. However, you first need to understand that a system of anything is not a tool. D’uh. A system is the combination of the processes, people, information, and tools that are used to get sh*t done!

A system that includes laptops, tablets, smart phones, and mainframes is every bit as valid as a system that includes pens, paper, and abacuses (abaci?). The key is to combine the various system components in a way that achieves an intended outcome. Unintended outcomes of a positive nature (serendipity, opportunity) are welcome. Unintended outcomes of a malevolent nature (issues, but you better have a risk management plan and understand the difference between issues and risks) are not.

Mobile devices (Ha! My brain is mobile and goes where I go. Does yours?) and mobile content are today’s red-headed step-children. But that’s only because they’re relatively new concepts (aside from cell phones and txt msgs) and we haven’t really figured out how to manage the content they produce, consume, and interact with (Actually, that’s crap; devices don’t do content, people do).

In his AIIM white paper, Geoffrey Moore gets one thing kind of right: “Clearly, systems of engagement need to operate on top of and in touch with our existing core systems of record.” I’d state it a bit differently; SOE’s extend the possibilities and reach of SOR’s. SOE’s and SOR’s need to be merged in order to achieve true Enterprise value.” (That’s why I came up with SOR/E’s).

I think he (Geoffrey Moore) also gets one thing dangerously wrong, though I don’t actually think it’s intentional. It may just be me, but I get the prickly feeling that when he refers to system he actually means tool (e.g.: PeopleSoft, Siebel, ACT!).

What if we were to take a different look at things? What if, instead of systems of records and/or engagement (you’ll notice the intentional lack of capitalization) we looked at them as layers; as in an n-tiered architecture? Is the engagement layer really anything more than what the user sees/uses? Isn’t the record layer merely the database / content repository? Are devices really anything more than elements of the presentation (think User Interface) layer (a.k.a. the Engagement layer)?

SOR/E's

By the way, I am not using the word “records” in a Records Management (ARMA, CRM) way here. Records really ought to be thought of as transactions.

Why did I use the Aerosmith version instead of the Beatles original? Watch it and figure it out.

Social: Bugger All New to See Here


In the context of business, social content does not exist. Social describes the nature of the forums in which the content is generated; social does not describe the actual content. To be honest I don’t even like using the word “social” to describe the forums in which the content is generated. This “new social business” thing is really nothing more than an extension of the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) models.

Business has been taking place socially since time began. Get over it; we aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. What we’re doing is using new tools to do it faster, capture more stuff, and do it better (we hope). We’re also creating a whacking great amount of new buzzwords and revenue opportunities for vendors, SI’s, analysts, and fly-by-nighters based on not much more than new and improved products without the new and the improved part is suspect in some cases.

Truly social content is that stuff we see on Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other channels (that are shared with business activities) about how much you drank, what you had for dinner, who’s doing bouncy-bouncy with whom, etc. It’s not that the content isn’t valuable to some (nice take on it here by Cheryl McKinnon), it’s just not business related content so from a business point of view we really don’t care (and do not confuse business value with historical or archival value).

Bduhon asked this yesterday: “The phrase “social content;” is there any there there or is it a BS concept-content is content is content?” Wanna take a shot at what my opinion is?

Social Business Guiding Principles


Listed below are a bunch of guiding principles that I believe are worthwhile to consider when implementing Social Business in an enterprise. They’re not in any particular order, nor are they grouped in any meaningful way.  The list is certainly not complete. I’ve put these together based on my own blog posts and stuff that I’ve been reading of late.

  1. Social content is subject to the same retention & disposition criteria as other content.
  2. Social content is just another form of digital content.
  3. Before implementing social business tools, have a plan and a purpose.
  4. The purpose of information is to inform and communicate; therefore, whether tangible or not, all communication has an intended outcome.
  5. Collaboration and value are paramount, compliance and control are secondary.
  6. All of us are smarter than one of us.
  7. We will teach each other, we will learn from each other.
  8. Security should only be as tight as it needs to be.
  9. Once it’s out there you can’t take it back.
  10. Unless you own the company, you don’t own the content.
  11. People first. Then process. Then technology.

What I would like to do is to have all of us collaborate to put together a list of principles to be applied to Social Business implementations. To that end, are there any on the above list that don’t belong? Are there any that are missing?

Send me your additions and rationale for deletions via DM’s on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/chris_p_walker) if you follow me, or as comments to this post. Remember to let me know who you are so I can give credit where credit is due. I will compile the list over the next few weeks and then post it for final editing. Anyone who has an opinion is welcome to contribute, especially the client community. If anyone has an idea for a better name than “Social Business Guiding Principles”, that’d be cool too.

 

Records Matter, Declaration Doesn’t


This is a follow up, inspired by Scott’s comment, to my post “Records – Do They Matter?” There are two things to keep in mind when reading this: 1) only electronic records are in scope; 2) ISO 15489.

Formally declaring a piece of electronic content as a record is antiquated, artificial, and unnecessary. Based on the accepted definition of a record, if an invoice is sent we already know that it’s a record by it being proof of a business transaction. When I send an email indicating a course of action I want taken, we already know it’s a record based on the context, content, and sender of the email. The only thing we really need to do is to determine how long we need to keep these items for. Assuming that we’ve implemented our technical infrastructure and business systems correctly, we can even assure the principles of authenticity, reliability, integrity, and to a degree, usability. Formal declaration will have no effect on any of these principles. For the record (pardon the pun), I do include ECM and E2.0 tools in infrastructure and business systems, since they do facilitate the execution of business functions.

From a retention management perspective there are three types of records:

  1. Permanent / Archival;
  2. Long term temporary (=> 1yr < forever);
  3. Transitory (< 1yr).

I’ve chosen the time frames for long term temporary and transitory for the sake of example only. The retention bucket we put the record in depends only on the business context and the business and/or historical value of the record; the origin and format of the record don’t matter.

We can argue that all business content qualifies as a record by virtue of it being business content. If we accept this approach we accomplish two important things: 1) the distinction between record and non-record is removed; 2) life is simpler for the average user (they no longer have to decide if something is a record or not). We can further simplify things by providing the user with a function based classification model.

Users know what business process they’re involved in, and they’re usually involved in only a couple of business processes in an organization. There is no reason to ask an average user to make a determination of how long something should be kept. At most the user should decide whether they’re working on a draft / work-in-process or they’ve finished whatever it is they are working on. That’s it.

I am not implying that users do not have the intelligence to make RIM-type decisions; they don’t have the training, focus, or need to make these decisions. We need to let people focus on the jobs they were hired to do in order to add greater value to their organizations. If they wanted to be RIM professionals they would let us know and we would help the poor buggers on their way (or send them for counselling).

What we need to do is to provide users with the education, tools, and support to do their jobs effectively in the information ecosystem. We don’t need to burden them with responsibilities and accountabilities that distract them from their core competencies without adding value to their goals or to organizational objectives. If we want organizations that perform better and manage information to its full potential, we need to build environments that encourage and reward collaboration, focus on value rather than rules, support knowledge workers with education, use appropriate tools, and work towards achieving organizational and individual objectives.

So I’ve changed my stance; records do matter, for without business records we don’t have businesses. However, there is no point in formally declaring content as a business record since if it isn’t a business record it has no reason to exist in the business.

 

It’s Really About Communication


Whether tangible or not, all communication has an intended outcome.

The purpose of information is to inform and communicate. We want to communicate our achievements (financial results), our desires (purchase orders), our directives (policies), and our knowledge (whitepapers & case studies). We want our communication to be actionable (buy something from my company), informative (the news), and educational (achieve and grow).

We communicate in real time (over a coffee, via instant message, over the phone) and asynchronously (email, billboards, Twitter). We communicate with no-tech (talking, non-verbal), low-tech (TV, print), and high-tech (blogs, Facebook). Our communication can be targeted to an individual, to a group, to the world. We receive communication as individuals, as groups, and as organizations.

The information we communicate may be acted upon immediately, in the near-term, in the long-term, or far into the future. Worst of all the information we communicate may never be acted upon, which ought to cause us to evaluate the quality of the information and the effectiveness of our communication.

When we communicate something that has a positive outcome we’re golden. If, however, a negative outcome results from our communication … not so much golden; we are held accountable for our communication. This is as it should be.

Given that what we’re really doing is communicating, something we’ve been doing since the dawn of time, why is it so difficult to build effective accountability into our information and communication management practices?

Update the Policies

Policies that were created in the days when paper ruled need to be updated, not applied as-is to electronic content. In fact, some (most?) of these policies need to be scrapped altogether and completely re-written. Policies need to be crafted in a manner that leverages the intrinsic value of information, not in a way that subjugates information to the fear and paranoia of the risk managers and the legal system. This is not to say that we ought to ignore risk and legal issues, we just can’t continue to let them be the driving force. Unless and until we transform information governance from a risk based model to a model based on value, organisations will never see the true benefits of their information assets and knowledge workers will never reach their full potential.

In order to develop policies that encourage innovation, creativity, and productivity, without exposing organisations to unnecessary risk you first need to identify the reasons you communicate, your target audiences, and your communication channels. Information governance policies need to be tailored to support the purpose of the information and the communication channels employed to disseminate the information.

Use the Tools

As much as there’s been an explosion in the amount of information that we deal with every day, there has also been an explosion in the number and variety of tools available to deal with the information. I’m not referring to tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social tools, which are viewed by some as being part of the problem. I am referring to the variety of information management and security tools that are available today.

There has been an explosion in the number and types of tools available to us to manage information. These tools include email archival tools, content and records management tools, business intelligence tools, newsreaders, collaboration tools, and information rights management tools. The problem we have is not that we’re missing the tools; the problem is that we’re missing an holistic approach to deploying these tools through the organisation in a manner that focuses on value rather than control.

Change Corporate Culture

Much has been written about the lack of general adoption of social business tools in organisations. One factor that is inhibiting adoption is that there are as yet no effective governance models in place for dealing with social business on an enterprise scale. ARMA recently released a research paper that, I suppose, provides some guidance in this area. However, it is my belief that the paper actually exacerbates the problem as it continues to deal with control instead of value. (Cheryl Mckinnon has a pretty good take on the paper.)

Corporate culture needs to change. Organisations need to develop reward and recognition policies that encourage employees to actively participate in social business, as consumers and as contributors.

What If?

What if Information Management policies were more focused on the value of information rather than on controlling information? Is it possible that the 2008 economic meltdown could have been predicted, less severe, or prevented altogether?

Enough Already! We Get It.


RIM practitioners have been banging on about compliance, governance, and risk for ages, to the point where I think audiences have become desensitized to the messages. So what do we do about it?

Change the Tune

Instead of continuing to talk about Records and governance, which only resonates with a small percentage of stakeholders, change the focus to Information. Julie Colgan started things off with her probing piece on the AIIM Community forum. We need to switch from talking about the bad things that happen when you don’t manage records properly, to the good things that happen when you do manage information properly. This is not to say that records don’t need to be managed; my contention is that Records Management is subservient to Information Management and that information governance imposes constraints on users and the organizations they work for.

Just for fun I cruised through the table of contents of 17 issues of Information Management published by ARMA between July 2007 and January 2011. My goal was to find feature articles that were focused on the value of information and not on the governance of information; I found very few. Even articles (there were two, if I recall correctly) that were E2.0 (or social  networking or Web2.0 or …) specific focused more on how to govern organizations’ use of E2.0 than on the value and benefits to be gained. In the November/December 2009 issue, in an article titled “Equipping Your Organization For The Social Networking Game” the authors (Nancy Dupre Barnes, Ph.D. & Frederick R. Barnes, J.D.) provide 10 “Recommendations for Internally Designed Sites”. The blurb preceding the recommendations states “These recommendations apply, in a general sense, to social networking sites designed internally for an organization’s business use. As such, it is important for the organization to seek and obtain approval from appropriate legal advisors prior to go-live.” The recommendations are:

  1. “Pay attention to policy pertaining to logo, (trademark or service mark) usage.”
  2. “Use disclaimers.”
  3. “Discourage or do not allow anonymity on the site.”
  4. “Use a single sign-on directory infrastructure for employees’ site access.”
  5. “For publicly traded companies, become familiar with SEC regulations regarding the disclosure of financial data.” (I won’t take umbrage with the uniquely U.S. view that ignores us Canadians)
  6. “Post terms and conditions for the use of the site.”
  7. “Observe intellectual property and copyright laws.”
  8. “Respect user privacy.”
  9. “Create a guide that incorporates all aspects of use of the site.”
  10. “Create training materials and offer opportunities for individuals to educate themselves on appropriate use of the site.”

All of these recommendations are perfectly valid, but none of them are unique to E2.0 and most of them ought to be contained in an organization’s information management policies. However, the biggest fault of these recommendations is that they will likely be met with a resounding “who cares?” when presented to the folks that actually have to use the E2.0 tools to do their work. There is also one critical governance recommendation missing: Anything you write / publish as part of your job belongs to the organization, not to you.

Let’s face it; if we unleash E2.0 on the workforce and expect them to use it productively (however the organization defines productively) we better give them recommendations that they can use to do their jobs. Here is a list of recommendations that may be better received:

  1. Have your work reviewed before you publish it.
  2. Make your content relevant.
  3. All of you are smarter than one of you.
  4. Learn from each other, teach each other.
  5. Understand your audience and engage them.

My point is that by changing the message we will get better buy in. Focus the message on the value and nature of the information and rely on the common sense and good intentions of the majority of the users to do the right things.

Change the Audience

We need to stop talking primarily to the executives and start talking more to the users. We need to develop new communication strategies with appropriate messaging for the various target audiences. We need to look at the advertising and marketing industry for inspiration and guidance. After all, we are selling Information Management to a broad spectrum of consumers from varying demographic groups.

Change the Messenger

Vendors, consultants, risk managers, legal counsel, “the man”, … we all have been delivering the messages for what seems like forever. It’s true that we know what needs to be done and we think we know how to get it done. However, in many cases it’s not getting done the way it ought to be done, nor with the enthusiasm we thought would be there. How many times have we looked into the eyes of the users and thought they’re thinking “This is just more bullsh*t from management.”? The users are wrong, but I understand where they’re coming from.

If we really want information management to be accepted and succeed we need the users to deliver the message to their peers. If we can make this happen it will work; I know because I’ve seen it happen. The challenge for us is how to make it happen.

Last month I was talking to a counsellor at my son’s junior high school about educating kids about life online (my earlier post on the subject). She’s doing it the right way; she is identifying a core group of student champions, providing them with the right messages, tools, and guidance, and letting them educate & motivate their peers.

Rise to the Top

Information Management needs to be represented in the C-suite. You may say “It is, look at all the CIO’s out there”. It’s not. Most CIO’s are IT executives whose focus is on how to get the most out of an organization’s technology assets (servers, network infrastructure, applications, databases, etc.). A CIO needs to be focused on an organization’s information assets in the same manner that a CFO is focused on financial assets. The CIO’s focus must be on how to leverage information to the organization’s best advantage.

C-suite appointments need to reflect that technology exists to support business. However, we can never lose sight of the fact that technology also provides capabilities and opportunities that we may not otherwise have.

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