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Information Coalition Community Blog

Information Coalition: Resources For Your Enterprise Information Success.

Fax & InfoGov: An Older Medium at Large

I went back to the Major National Bank yesterday to complete some parents'-estate-related account-opening tasks, and couldn't believe the gal helping me was told by some back-office document people to send a specifically-worded note to them – not by email but by fax.

The surprise wasn't that the bank still relies on this older medium from time to time – I've been writing about this for quite a long while (see this post from 2012, and this one from earlier this year). Rather, I was stunned to learn that the bank requires fax for some of its internal communications.

You would think that email would be the preferred medium to use in such a case given the end-to-end control the bank has over its infrastructure and the protection thereof. OK, maybe the faxing takes place over an internal VoIP connection and is similarly well secured. Why then give up the down-the-road process efficiencies associated with a "born digital" document?

I don't have a good answer for this, and the people yesterday were neither the right people to ask about it nor paying clients, so I simply went along. And in the end, the process worked, and I got done what I needed to do.

But I can't help but think this accomplishment was achieved in spite of some of the information governance decisions the bank made, not because of them.

What say you?

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Understanding The Information Strategist

Understanding The Information Strategist
The world of associations and groups that serve the enterprise information sector currently looks something like this:

Each association and group has a body of knowledge and a specific profession, that leverages enterprise information, and focuses on that specific profession (e.g. Records Managers are served by ARMA, ECM is served by AIIM, Privacy Professionals by IAPP, etc.). The Information Coalition serves a gap in this structure that isn't quite visible in our typical understanding of associations and groups, let me show it to you...

You can find the gap with me by asking some very simple questions:

  • Which group sets organizational policy?
  • Which group is "in charge" of information?
  • Who coordinates between the various roles?


Who is it that does that cross functional work that aligns enterprise information policy and structure across disciplines? In some companies it's the CIO, in others it's the CTO, in many others (I daresay most), it's no one at all. There's the huge gap. We call the people that fill that gap, whatever their official title, an information strategist.

It's the information strategist, and the people that are de facto Information Strategists, that the Information Coalition serves, and we believe that the real picture of where things are going is something akin to this:

We believe that the information strategist's role is incredibly challenging and incredibly important, whatever their official title may be (CIO, CTO, CIGO, Information Manager, Records Manager, Privacy Director, etc.).

The deep knowledge of the associations and groups that cover our broad sector should be cherished and honored; but let's be clear - we aren't that. The information strategist needs to have knowledge across disciplines, a bit of everything. The information strategist needs to have knowledge about how to align the various disciplines. This is where we serve and it shows in how we operate.

What many don't know is that we invite as many of the groups you see above to speak, present, and display at The Information Governance Conference. A few have taken us up on that offer (ARMA has in the past, the ICRM board has joined us, and IAPP and the PDF Association will be joining us this year).

Unfortunately, some have decided to not take us up on our offer, viewing us instead as competition. We'd like to clear the air and help everyone better understand our positioning, so that we can all move forward, together, and help our various professions advance, together. Consider this an open and public call to any and all of the aforementioned groups (and any we might have missed) to come and join us this year. We are paying for the costs of their registration and their tables (which we are charged for by the convention center) ourselves, that's how deep our commitment to this cross-functional work is.

As for the Information Coalition, we're continuing to gain momentum and are growing at a breakneck pace, not because we are fighting against the disciplinary focused associations. We're growing because we are enhancing their offerings, providing guidance on how to move from the tactical roles of a specific discipline into the broad role of an information strategist. If you're seeing your role shift towards the role of an "information strategist", join us, our basic membership is free (and we're committed to your success) and ALSO join the association that serves your specific domain of knowledge, we all have a role to play in the future of our professions.

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3 Truths to Work With (or Against) When You Have to Change Minds

If you've been paying any attention to my posts, columns, and presentations, then you know just how important I believe – nay, I know – managing change is to the success of any information venture. So it won't surprise you to learn that I resonated like a tuning fork to a few of the concepts published yesterday in Fast Company that had nothing overtly to do with information governance.

1. "Many people form their opinions, at least in part, based on whether they think others share those opinions."

The need to "fit in" is hardwired into the human psyche, no doubt because, millennia ago, being outcast from your tribe likely meant your early demise. Today, the risks usually are much less dire, but the instinct to conform persists nonetheless. (Watch this social experiment for a light-hearted look.)

This reflex reaction can be harnessed to your advantage by gathering together like-minded individuals and utilizing that old sales technique in which you ask questions to which you know the answer will be "yes": "Don't you want to be able to find information faster than you do now? Don't you want access to the information you need regardless of which system it lives in? Don't you want to use a technology that lets you work the way you always have?" Properly orchestrated, people's opinions will become self-reinforcing in the direction you desire, and the first part of the battle will be won.

2. "The more frequently you encounter a piece of information, the more favorably disposed you are toward it."

Long substantiated by professional political panderers, this particular principle maps precisely to my time-honored catchphrase "change management = marketing" because it's all about repeating your message, to all of your intended audiences, as often as you can get away with. (This is the underpinning of the marketing Rule of 7, which posits that people need to see a message at least seven times before they will consider taking action.)

In enterprise information terms, this means constantly and creatively promoting the tangible business benefits of the work you are doing (or wanting to do). It means repeatedly distilling those benefits into definitive answers to users' critical question, "what's in it for me?!" It means not talking about "SharePoint" even if that's what you're using, but referring to something more generic so as not to worry the technophobes in the crowd. And it means staying away from uneducated guesstimates like the one made famous in the 1983 movie Mr. Mom: "Yeah, 220, 221. Whatever it takes."

3. "Thanks to handy 'unfollow' and 'mute' buttons, we get to choose what bits of information to attend to."

This may be the toughest nut to crack because we can't control what information people choose to actively filter out. Someone who really doesn't want to accept your new way of organizing information, engaging in a business process, or participating in some other data-based activity will simply delete your emails, block your social media memos, or ignore you at the water cooler.

The trick is to couch your message of change in terms of some other communication that he or she may very well want to hear. Just as we wrap doggie medicine inside a yummy treat, so we need to embed our new best-practices in something alluring – perhaps an invitation to a company-sponsored special event (a ballgame, a show, a trip) that is open only to those who, say, tag/move/manage some significant percentage of their emails by a certain date.

At the end of the day, what you're after is an organization full of people who are receptive – or at least not openly hostile – to the changes you are trying to make. The good news is that human psychology in this regard is fairly well understood. The bad news is that it can be quite challenging to work with and work around. Hopefully the 3 Truths adapted here will help ease your way.

What other techniques have you used to change minds and behaviors in your organization? What worked? What didn't? Let's talk about it.

==========================
Steve Weissman | 617-383-4655
- The Info Gov Guy™
- Member, AIIM Company of Fellows
- Co-Founder,
Information Coalition
- Follow me on Twitter! @steveweissman

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Recent Comments
Julie Hudak
Real change happens most effectively when people see the WIFM benefits and go through the change with someone holding their hands ... Read More
Thursday, 09 June 2016 20:19
Steve Weissman
You are so right, Julie! I'd even go as far as to suggest that focusing on the people aspect of change is not just a huge benefit ... Read More
Friday, 10 June 2016 13:52
2 Comments

The Human Face of InfoGov

Solution marketeers and alarmist analysts love to flash the red lights of litigation support and audit compliance when making the case for information governance. But the problem with this is that neither of these reasons speak to the one Really Important Motive that lies at the end of the infogov path:

To better serve/enable/empower people, be they customers, prospects, employees, or other interested parties.

Cases in Point

This point was sadly and forcibly driven home to me in recent months as I cared for two terminally-ill family members. I've already touched on a couple of examples (see When Paper Is The Best Technology and Just the Fax, Ma'am), and here a couple more:

  • The funeral home that couldn't find the pre-paid paperwork and, after being provided with my carbon copy, defended itself by saying, "oh, that was done under the old owners." As if that justified the days-long halt they called to making the final arrangements.
  • The same funeral home that couldn't find another client's file folder and sent two staffers on an obvious office search, during which they loudly asked within earshot of everybody present, "has anyone seen the [family name] file?" Privacy? We don't need no stinking privacy.
  • The hospital ICU nurse who missed a critical bit of medical information because it was recorded on a piece of paper "that is a different size and color than I've ever seen before." Apparently reading is not fundamental.
  • The rehab facility whose blood-testing machine returned a result so far from normal that the technician thought the patient must be dying or dead – only to discover that he was exhibiting no symptoms at all. Couldn't be that there was something wrong with the machine, could it? Nah – better to rush the tube-fed, dialysis patient to the emergency room instead.

I could go on, but I won't for fear of offending more sensibilities than just my own. Suffice to say that these infogov-related incidents were painful for the family and disruptive to the institutions involved, which then had to spend time and effort addressing what went wrong.

Oh the Humanity!

I'd like to say that this story has a happy ending, that the funeral home, the hospital, the rehab facility learned their lesson, but they didn't. It's clear to me that the powers-that-be in each of these places – as is the case in so many – are more concerned with being right than with doing the right thing. The shame of it is that they could make some relatively small changes in their information-handling and make life better for both themselves and their constituents. But I'm sure they won't.

And that's a shame, because, to me, THAT is what infogov is really all about.

==========================
Steve Weissman | 617-383-4655
- The Info Gov Guy™
- Member, AIIM Company of Fellows
- Co-Founder,
Information Coalition
- Follow me on Twitter! @steveweissman

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Information Management and Backwards-Compatibility: Just the Fax, Ma’am

​What does it tell you about the latest information management disciplines that my big success this week was sending a 10-page fax to a doctor's office?

It tells me is that we should never forget that much of the world consists of people who are just trying to get stuff done – and many of these are not equipped with anything resembling the cutting-edge infogov solutions we usually focus on. (There's a much more significant example here.)

The Back Story

About a year ago, I cut the cord to my cable service, sacrificing hundreds of channels I never watched and phone services I hardly used for a high-speed Internet connection. And all was perfectly well until the other day, when I needed to send a document to my elderly father's physician and learned that they are only allowed to communicate via fax.

Lacking a phone line, I knew there was no dial tone to feed to my MFP. I also knew I didn't want to sign up for an online service (too much work considering I probably won't have to fax again for years). So I ended up buying a gadget, subscribing to a free VOIP offering, and faxed happily ever after.

The Moral

I tell this story because I don't want you to hold the same mistaken assumption I did (albeit unwittingly), which is that anyone I need to share information with lives in the same scan/PDF/email world I do. The truth is, there are plenty of technical, philosophical, economic, and legal reasons for them not to, and yet it still somehow surprised me when they surfaced.

I still firmly believe that the latest information disciplines have the power to transform our businesses, and I know they are doing so in a great many cases. But we must always remember that the old ones have a staying power of their own, and we overlook them only at our peril.

==========================
Steve Weissman | 617-383-4655
- The Info Gov Guy™
- Member, AIIM Company of Fellows
- Co-Founder, Information Coalition - Follow me on Twitter!
@steveweissman

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