Step Up to Get a Seat at the Table
Говорят, что самый длинный путь начинается с одного шага. Надеюсь, эта статья подтолкнет ваc сделать первый шаг и поможет вам доказать вашy ценность для вашей организации.
There are perhaps only a few readers who understand what appears above in Russian. So, let’s try again – this time in English: It is said that the longest journey begins with a single step. I hope this article will encourage you take that first step in your journey toward proving your relevance and value to your organization.
Galina Datskovsky, Ph.D., CRM
The reason I began my article in Russian is not to show off my linguistic skills, but to illustrate a point: to truly understand each other, we must have a common language. The same is true in our organizations. Even though everyone may speak English, the words may mean something totally different for those in IT, legal, and the C-level suite. So, we don’t understand each other. We don’t get the full picture. We miss out.
Take the First Step
Creating a common language is an active process. So many times we hear the sounds that are made – we hear the words being formed and believe magically that we’ll start to understand, but that kind of magical thinking doesn’t work. Learning is an active process. We must take the first step and learn the languages of our counterparts and create a common way of communication. If we are not an active seeker of education, there is a very real danger that the conversation will pass us by.
A story is told of an old man who lives in a flood zone. A hurricane hits the area and the government suggests evacuation. He, of course, refuses to go. He sits on the front steps of his house in the now-empty evacuated neighborhood. A police car drives by, and the officers offer him a ride. He says, “My higher power will take care of me.”
The waters begin to rise. Now he is sitting on the small balcony on the second floor of his house. The lower part of the house is completely flooded. A police boat comes by and offers him a ride. He refuses and says his higher power will take care of him.
A few hours later he is sitting on the roof of his house, and the rest of the house is submerged. A rescue helicopter comes by to offer him a lift. He says no, his higher power will take care of him. Naturally, he drowns. He comes before his higher power and says, “I am so disappointed. I believed in you, and you let me down.” His higher power says, “Listen; I sent you a car, a boat, and a helicopter; all you had to do was take the first step.”
You’ve taken a good step in seeking out professional resources, like this magazine, to help you grow. By reading, participating in web seminars, taking online courses, and networking with other professionals, you have the opportunity to learn the languages you need to keep your organization moving forward.
Assert Yourself as an Expert
You are an expert within your organization, but do your colleagues truly know that? Do they realize the expertise and the perspective you bring to the table?
Often the answer is “no,” and the reasons too often fall into two categories: First, is the reason discussed above – the lack of a common language among your counterparts and the Csuite. Second, you may not be taking an active role in letting your organization know the critical skills you bring to the table. After learning to speak the language IT, legal, and executive staff use, you must assert yourself, making yourself relevant to strategic conversations. Like the old man in my story, you need to take the steps necessary to ensure success.
Prove Your Value
Let me tell you about a title I saw on a business card recently. It said, “Chief Records Officer.” Let that sink in for a minute. “Chief Records Officer.” Now, you may not have that title as your ultimate career goal. But, the fact that organizations are now naming chief records officers shows a level of upward mobility that implies value to the organization. You know that your organization values you when Clevel staff members seek your input. Your organization shows they value you when your judgment is trusted.
However, they won’t usually take that step for you and ask you completely unprovoked. You have to make that happen yourself, at least the first time. It takes hard work, but when your organization values what you provide, that’s when promotions happen.
If your employer sees value in what you bring to the table, you continue to be relevant to the organization. Sometimes, that means that your employer is happy to pay for your professional development. Sometimes, it means you are sent to a conference. And sometimes, the battle is more difficult. You have to take more of that responsibility on for yourself. You have to make the investment in yourself to make sure your employer sees you as relevant.
For those of you who have been complacent in your jobs, reluctant to take on too much responsibility, your career prospects are limited. To be relevant to your organization, you must insert yourself into your work situation, you must make it clear to your organization why it needs information governance and that you are the information governance professional it needs.
Concern Yourself with All Information
How do you prove your value to your organization? First, you must understand that the problems of businesses have changed. There’s a world of chaos that is organizational information. According to RMfuturewatch.com, approximately 7%-9% of enterprise content can be considered official records. Is that all you manage? Is that all you really care about? If so, you can hope to be only 7%-9% relevant to your organization.
If that is the case, what happens to the other 91% of your organization’s information? It lives and grows exponentially in servers. It walks out the door on portable devices. It lives in the cloud. It’s being duplicated on hard drives and in SharePoint® sites. And it must all be governed. To prove your value, you must help your organization relieve these pressing pain points. Show how you can help them become more efficient while minimizing risk.
Let’s talk concrete examples here. When it comes to retention and disposition, do you strive for perfection? Striving for perfection costs time – and may leave you too paralyzed to act. As is often said, “Perfection is the enemy of the good.” Instead, let’s discuss retention and disposition differently. Our focus should be on legally defensible retention and disposition. This means that we’re dealing with our risk with reasonableness and showing a good faith effort in these areas. It’s not just for legal reasons that we make this transition. It’s also for business efficiency. You can’t just scare people into listening to you with examples of spoliation cases and major regulatory or court-sanctioned fines. Fear alone is not a sufficient argument or motivator here. The argument must also be made that legally defensible retention and disposition also makes our businesses more efficient. We eliminate the information we don’t need, leaving us more efficient in our next search, our next legal hold, our next data integration, or our next new software rollout. When changes make both good business sense AND reduce risk, organizations start to listen.
Eliminate Turf Battles
Do you fight with your IT department? The genesis of the battle we shouldn’t be having is easy to see. When the world started to become electronic, businesses asked for help from the IT department. Electronically stored information, such as in e-mail, SharePoint®, and shared drives, has traditionally been the exclusive purview of IT – not because they are governance experts, but because the language they speak is the one that allows the business to implement and maintain IT needs.
You must be able to speak that same language if you are going to make your case for information governance in a way that is clear and easily understood. We all know what happens when we do not insert ourselves as being relevant to this conversation. We have software rollouts without good policy behind them that result in difficulties down the road, Share- Point® sites that become unwieldy and orphaned, and e-mail accounts full of e-mails asking co-workers out to lunch, which our organizations spend money to store.
You can’t WAIT to be invited to these discussions. Complaining after the fact that the right people weren’t consulted feels good, but it doesn’t help your organization move forward – just as in the story of the old man. Again, you must demonstrate your relevance and be ready to speak the right language.
You must abandon the idea of it being “RIM versus IT”; you must work together as a team, creating a culture that is all about your organization and common goals.
Just Do It!
We’ve been talking about the difficult part of getting a seat at the table – namely, stepping up and making ourselves relevant. My advice to you is to take that first step and “Just do it.”
Learning the language of information governance – which is relevant to the C-suite, as well as to legal and IT – is to learn about the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles® (GARP®). GARP® encapsulates the value of information governance in business terms. And, it provides an Information Governance Maturity Model we can use to show our organizations how much further they need to go. These resources are available free at www.arma.org/garp.
Earlier this year, ARMA International launched the Essentials of GARP® Certificate, which consists of three online courses, two web seminars, and publications that will help you learn how to apply GARP® to identify and address gaps in your information governance program and to prepare it for virtually any legal challenge. Learn more at www.arma. org/ garp/essentialsofgarpcertificate.cfm.
ARMA International has created myriad other resources (see below). I encourage you to take advantage of these resources – many of them are free – but go further and really expand your understanding to cover the perspective of your peers in the legal world.
Download the white paper written by the Honorable Ron Hedges about how working with the information governance maturity model can provide guidance in investigations and in litigation (available at www.arma.org/ legal/legal_%20white_paper.pdf).
Go further and take the online course, “GARP® and Legally Defensible Information Governance” to understand how the EDRM reference model isn’t just a step in e-discovery, butan ongoing process that can be managed by best practices like GARP®. (See http://tinyurl.com/876ln6n.) It includes valuable examples of case law and how the GARP® principles could have protected organizations from being the negative examples they have become.
Also, use the Essentials of RIM certificate program (available at www. arma.org/essentials/). Share this with your IT counterparts to make everyone in your organization an ally in the cause. Remember, it’s not us verses them. It’s about the organization.
Plan a lunch and learn with your collaborative team from IT and legal. Invite them to watch key sessions that deal with the problem you’re all facing. It’s a great step toward proving your relevance to your organization. It’s a great step toward speaking the same language as your collaborative team and C-level staff. It’s also a great step toward proving your relevance and value to your organization and moving further along on your intended career path.
Download the complete PDF version here.
Galina Datskovsky, Ph.D., CRM, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From July - August 2012