…winning the hearts and minds
Getting information management embedded in an organisation’s culture can be pretty hard. It can seem that, no matter what good programs and processes you develop and get signed off by senior management, users just don’t care.
Speaking to the business can be hard, so in this blog we’re going get through to your users through the power of Tolstoy. Trust me, it’ll be fine… probably.
‘When starting on a journey… men capable of reflection are generally in a serious frame of mind. At such moments one reviews the past and plans for the future’
First of all we’re going to have to embrace the fact that some people just aren’t going to want to talk to you. Don’t take it personally, I’m sure they’re just busy. If they’re not and still won’t talk to you… well we’ll get to that.
As we all know, everyone loves it when a plan comes together. Everyone feels better if they’ve been a part of something that has worked and made a difference. So looking at what has been going on in the business area you’re engaging with, what problems and issues do they have, and what precedents has this set for poor information management?
If you can demonstrate on a storyboard where the team has been, where they are now, and where they could be, you’re already winning the war because they can see the advantages immediately and help shape the development and delivery of the information management strategy.
The Information Managers; home in time for tea and medals (catalogue reference: COPY 1/397)
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Despite over a decade in helping users understand information management and getting them to accept that shaping information in the way you need to use it can actually make them happier… it doesn’t matter. The only time I’ve ever seen users not default to a shared drive is if they are less than ten feet from a printer.
Applications have become richer in their functionality and what they can interoperate with to deliver ever more developed workflows and case management. There are tools which provide an entire platform that can let you do just about anything with information, from web publishing to day-to-day processing.
Still it doesn’t matter; shared drives trump everything, all the time, everywhere in the world. This blog post isn’t big enough to explore all the reasons why users do this (and there are many). But what I do have space for is this; two challenges – one for us and one for developers.
Challenge 1 – Us
Turning off the shared drive! I mean the complete shut down of the NTFS – no corporate drive and no user drives… nothing. Could it be done without risking information management and digital continuity? Would users spontaneously combust?
Managing email is often subject to contradiction:
1. It is the solution to all problems, saves money, saves time and makes everyone so happy they want to high-five each other.
2. It is a burden that even Hercules would call in sick to avoid.
Obviously both those statements contain a little hyperbole, but in the age of email there aren’t many of us who haven’t come unstuck because someone else has the crucial email stuck in their [inaccessible] inbox. Even here at the Information Management Service we face the many headed Hydra that is the email inbox.
Yeah, I'll file those emails.. just after I've taken the dog for a walk!
The trick to successful email management is to find a middle ground (preferably closer to the first view than the second!) where your colleagues don’t mind filing things, and don’t see it as an extra thing on the ‘to do’ list. With email this can seem near impossible because it requires the action of moving the email to another location into whatever system or drive you use to share your business information. It all comes down to being able to demonstrate that actively managing email is worthwhile and not at all like the aforementioned Hydra.
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…In fair Verona, where we lay our scene…’
Portrait of William Shakespeare. Catalogue reference: PRO 30/25/205
So starts Shakespeare’s classic tale, Romeo and Juliet. Most of us are familiar with this tale of star-crossed lovers and I want to use it as an analogy for another relationship between two key parts of every business that often struggle to work together.
With a little less drama, this is a relationship I see every day that has the potential to cause significant disruption to most organisations*. This can go unnoticed and unchecked for some time until it comes to reviewing / refreshing information management systems.
It is a long established and widely accepted fact that Information Management (IM) and Information Technology (IT) inevitably fall out and disagree on how information should be viewed and managed. A latter day Capulets and Montagues going to great lengths to obstruct one another in a battle for supremacy.
That may seem a touch dramatic, but in this blog post I hope to show you why it’s actually this serious and why, if left unchecked, it can expose organisations to any number of risks associated with not securing and managing information correctly.
Artwork of Alice and the Cheshire Cat by John Tenniel
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
- Lewis Carroll; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I do a lot of work supporting government departments that need to migrate across information management solutions, usually because the old one doesn’t support the business / users anymore. The extract above from Lewis Carroll is a perfect explanation of why you need to understand your business requirements before piloting any software.
In 1999 a daring young man with brilliant blue eyes stood atop the Uncompaghre Plateau in Western Colorado. Jaw held tight to stop his quivering bottom lip, he looked up to the azure sky and fought back the tears.
‘Sorry kid. The Brontosaurus doesn’t exist.’
In five simple words (and one Latin one) the last remnant of his childhood lay dashed upon the hard dirt floor of the Dry Mesa Quarry.
That young palaeontologist was me and while my site director did at least offer gentle words of condolence for my loss. I was left wanting.
‘How could there not be a Brontosaurus? Why were people not angrier about this? And if Brontosaurus didn’t exist… whose giant shin bone was I currently wrapping in plaster?’