Monday, March 18, 2013

Stop Whining Already

As I was extracting the plastic butter knife from Bob’s frail and thin-skinned chestal cavity (as you recall, Bob is our archetypical records manager that I love to pick on), in a rare moment of decency, I couldn’t help but realize that maybe I was too harsh and should reflect upon my pointed last blog post that made Bob feel so bad about himself.  If you need to refresh your recollection, here it is ( )

People tell me they are tired of “issues spotters”. That is the cynical and negative types like me that hone in on corporate America’s information management failings while eating popcorn just to point out the obvious. “I get that discovery is painful and expensive—help fix it”. “I get that records management is utterly broken—help make it better”. “I get that I am a powerless “Army of One” with a records management agenda that would keep 12 people busy and report to a knucklehead that doesn’t care, but get me funding to do something productive”. Ok I get it, you want solutions not the “in your face” slap of reality that reminds you that you have already been replaced by the IT folks and your days are numbered. 

Here are 7 things that you can do to transform your career

1.            SIMPLIFY-Rework all records policies and retention rules so that they can be applied by technology. If you have event based retention, get rid of it unless ABSOLUTELY required by law. Lots of folks point to imaginary laws that they claim requirement event triggers. Do the research and you will realize you are wrong lots of the time. In any event, work with your lawyers to get agreement to simplify, simplify, simplify.  Make it practical and seek reasonableness.
2.            RELOCATE-Politic to have records management be part of the IT department. They have money, control all info and need your help. I have heard the debate for years now. In fact, I hear it every year for 2 decades—where is the best corporate location for information management? Stop the debate find a better home, where you are loved.
3.            MARKET-Change your program to an Information Governance program, and market what you do, build support, and go and win budget for valuable initiatives. You are a business not an indigent on the dole. Make yourself valuable and sell your wares just like everybody else does.
4.            BUSINESS FOCUSED-Stop trying to get approval for saving 12 dollars by destroying 6 boxes of paper. Think big and think value to the business and what executives care about. If your information governance program saved millions of dollars and made the business appreciably more productive, the executive would take note. Defensible Disposition is a winner project for IT, Legal, Users, Customers and Executives. Go build a team, get buy in and elevate retention to a place of import.
5.            EDUCATE- Our world doesn’t need old tools, it needs really smart folks with knowledge of technology that makes things hum. Get busy and get smart ASAP.
6.            BUSINESS CASE- The  way you will get budget is to have a plan to attack a business problem. The plan will demonstrate how much it will cost, how long it will take, how many internal and external resources it will take, and WHAT THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS WILL BE TO THE ORGANIZATIOIN. If a project costs a lot and doesn’t provide calculable economic benefit it won’t get funded. If it is little in value to the organization nobody will care.  Think big and think smart. Cleaning house of 30%of the information crud clogging the pipes will be valuable because it can save major money.
7.            STOP WHINING-Bob, no one likes to hang with victims. Start to see yourself as a valuable asset to the company. Think money, not boxes. Think service provider, not box pusher. Think budget, not justifying your salary. Think relationships, not about being browbeat by the head of Real Estate to whom you report, but who cares naught for you.  Become, faster, smarter and business value focused.

Maybe if you can successfully take that on in the next 12 months, you won’t be so interested in collecting chapter pins at the next ARMA International Conference anymore.