Email: Reason Enough
“Workers distracted by phone calls, e-mails and text messages suffer a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana, a British study shows.”
Emails ‘hurt IQ more than pot,’ CNN.com[1. Emails ‘hurt IQ more than pot,’ CNN.com, April 22, 2005.]
IN BRIEF. IG makes sense because it helps organizations take control of email. Solving email should be a top priority for every organization.
According to the study quoted above, using email can be hazardous to your intelligence. Sometimes I think that the same IQ deficit sets in when companies try to manage email. Everything they have learned about information management seems to be forgotten, and they end up with policies that indiscriminately keep every email message, or throw away every message, regardless of what the message contains. Or, they impose volume limitations without the support of a policy that tells employees that some messages have legal implications and cannot be tossed simply because they violate an arbitrary storage limitation. Or, they just do nothing.
Email is how we do business today. Our email systems are full of “a significant number of important emails involving the organization in obligations, agreements, contracts, regulations and discussion.”[2. AIIM International, “AIIM Industry Watch: Email Management, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” AIIM International, May 2009.] At the same time, email mismanagement causes so many problems that it’s amazing we use it at all.
IG helps us take control of the email management problem. IG policies provide rules on how email is managed. Retention schedules guide the retention and disposition of email. Information technology helps us implement and enforce the policies. IG training ensures that everyone understand their responsibilities.
Apply IG to your email system – it’s reason enough to invest in an IG program. When doing so, keep the following in mind:
1) Develop defensible policies that align with your approach to information management in other systems
2) Consider turning off the ability for users to export email to local files
3) Ensure that your Legal Hold process covers email
4) Look at email archiving to reduce volume, duplication, and improve centralized management capabilities
The Connected Thinking of IG is the Future of Business Success
“While detailed knowledge of a single area once guaranteed success, today the top rewards go to those who can operate with equal aplomb in starkly different realms.”
Daniel Pink, “A Whole New Mind”[1. Daniel Pink, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future,” Riverhead Books, 2006, p. 134.]
IN BRIEF. IG makes sense because it reflects the future of organizational culture – diverse groups working together to solve complex problems. IG can help to foster this culture and lead organizational change.
In the bestselling book, “A Whole New Mind,”[2. Daniel Pink, “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future,” Riverhead Books, 2006.] Daniel H. Pink argues that the future belongs to those who can see across boundaries to envision the “connections between diverse, and seemingly separate, disciplines.” He posits that this ability is becoming essential to the success of individuals and organizations.
This theory is directly applicable to information governance. Information governance (IG), with its legal, technology, records management, and business elements, is by nature multi-disciplinary. Success in IG is synonymous with the ability to see beyond the confines of one discipline to understand how each discipline connects with the others to solve the problem.
Steve Bailey suggests that “[r]ecords management has . . . long been defined by the narrowness of its focus.”[3. Steve Bailey, “Managing the Crowd: Rethinking Records Management for the Web 2.0 World,” Facet Publishing, 2008, p. 60.] But, records management shouldn’t be singled out. Just as records management has clung to the idea that it should only worry about one narrow class of information (i.e., records – often in paper form), IT has largely refused to take management responsibility for the information flowing through its systems. Business leaders and attorneys have their own form of blinders that are a barrier to the connected thinking and problem solving that IG requires.
As a consultant, I have many times sat in windowless rooms drinking terrible coffee and mediating between these groups. Although this is rewarding work, the pattern is always the same: nobody understands that they are all trying to solve the same problem. Each group is more than willing to share their discipline’s view of the problem (often using their “outside voices”), but nobody believes that they “own” the IG problem as a whole.
And, in most cases they are right. Corporate governance structures mostly have not evolved to address the complex issues of IG. The result? When the committees and task forces and working groups have all come and gone, nobody is on the line – in their career and their paycheck – for the success of the IG effort.
The flip side of this is equally true. When everyone owns a task, nobody in particular owns the task. Thus, nobody can be held accountable. Corporate structures aren’t very good at holding groups responsible – at least at the task level.
In mediating such sessions, I have been most successful when each group has learned – often through a traumatic experience – to empathize with the others (incidentally, another “right brain” quality that Pink points out as essential). Any guesses as to what the catalyst for this empathy is the majority of the time? Lawsuits. Investigations. Major business events that require legal, IT, records management, and business to work together – often under enormous pressure – to solve a problem.