Wednesday, February 5, 2014

10 Leaps of Change



10 Leaps of Change

There is an expression (probably in every language) that says something to the affect that if you try something and it hasn’t worked in the past and you continue to do it, that you are a knucklehead. Ok, I may be paraphrasing a little.  But in any event, this adage seems to apply to business as it does in life generally.  When you take a path in business that hasn’t worked in the past and nothing has changed to increase the likelihood of success this time around, then choosing that same path is bad business.

Employees are bad at records management.  Never will the run of the mill employee wake up saying, “Yikes, I really miss classifying information for retention purposes.” And if they do, you don’t want them working at your company anyway. Having employees do the heavy lifting when it comes to managing information is a bad use of their time; they are really bad at it and they fail way too often.

Recently, I was talking to a big financial services client who was having us react to a new policy initiative. At its center of the policy was the employee who would either make it a success or utter failure. I voted for failure the second I saw it. After all, the same kind of policy failed last year in a similar task.  Employees scoffed at the last policy directive and didn’t care, why would this time be different?  

But actually, it’s way worse than you think. That is because businesses continue to ask of its employees the same tasks that haven’t worked well in the past. But now two things are different that make making employee center stage in the Information Management Compliance business that much stupider.

Each year the Information Footprint is increasing at between 25-50%. So if records management was hard last year this year it’s AT LEAST 25-50% harder. If your employees couldn’t get through classifying the pile last year, this year they have last year’s left over info to deal with and this year’s pile which is 25-50% larger.

I say AT LEAST because there is another important reality—employees are increasingly asked to do more with less. How often do you hear a worker say that this year they had less work responsibilities? If they did, perhaps they were unemployed. Everyone working the last few years especially in the downturned economy had more work responsibilities, not less.

My point is simple, using the some old solution that didn’t work in the past has no chance now where employees have more stuff to deal with and less time.

So what to do?

10 Leaps of Change (LOC)--It’s like a Leap of Faith, but with less fairies involved and more action.

1.      Stop thinking your employees can make information management happen, those days past decades ago. Take them out of any heavy lifting.
2.      Applying multiple business rules to each chunk of content is not going to happen. Too much stuff in too many places.
3.      Change the paradigm from records live everywhere to records live only in sanctioned and designated repositories.
4.      Thereafter, develop plans to apply straight retention to the vast storage locations that house non-records.
5.      Start applying retention rules to structured records as they are a storage hog and can save the company a boat-load of money by being properly disposed.
6.      Revisit email policy rules and develop a plan to reduce the time email is being kept.
7.      Try to come up with ways that email can be managed without evaluating the content of each message—not practical and not happening.
8.      Take on old repositories and old back up media to get rid of the stuff you no longer need. After all, you want to thin out your Information Footprint.
9.      Every time a new location to park info is created, develop rules for the info disposition event and make it happen automatically downstream.
10.   Stop tilting at windmills, stop believing in fairies (except perhaps the Tooth Fairy as she is as real as Chicago is cold), and stop believing that things that have failed in the past so many times may work this time.

You can Fly if you Believe Wendy.