The Theory of Relative Simplicity

By Blake Richardson, CRM posted 03-23-2011 21:47

I once read Albert Einstein had a closet full of the same suits, shirts, ties and shoes.  He felt having to choose what to wear each day cluttered the mind with meaningless thoughts and decisions.  However, I have recently read that this is not completely accurate.  It appears he also had an affinity for sweatshirts and sandals.  For the purpose of this blog entry (and to humor me), let’s assume the former is true.
Be honest – how many of us spend time each night or morning thinking about what we are going to wear to work.  Not finding matching socks can cause a brief period of stress.  Think about a world where you get out of the shower, go to the closet and are freed from apparel decisions.  Though most of us will not use our new-found time to ponder general relativity or Brownian motion, we can use it for other pertinent purposes.
Clothes aside, how does this tie into information and records management?  As information and records management practitioners, we have grappled with what levels of complexity to place on the shoulders of our customers.  I believe most of us feel simplicity and convenience improves program compliance.  So how can we make the end-user experience better – understand what they do.  This doesn’t mean just obtaining an understanding of their records, but also of their workflows, objectives and initiatives on the horizon. 
Taking off the black and white RIM badge, and getting into the business weeds provides several benefits, improved business unit efficiency, knowledge of our customer and their needs and exposure to our efforts.  Taking time to meet with end-users helps us to have a more comprehensive perspective of the consequences of our actions and mandates.  For example, understanding the capabilities and limitations of the business allows us to know during the development of policy whether something is attainable or whether there is no potential for compliance or enforcement.
So back to Einstein – what else can we do to help end-users from cluttering their mind, and focus on their core tasks?  We can reduce (and possibly eliminate) decisions and uncertainty.  First we need to take a moment to consider what actions and decisions the employee has to make each day regarding information:
  • Filing
  • Classifying
  • Retrieval
  • Re-filing
  • Destruction/Deletion
How can we help?  Most employees are not preoccupied by ECM, cloud computing, social media or eDiscovery.  They want to find the information they need when they need it to do their job.  This is our opportunity to shine.  We can help employees, based on our understanding of their business processes, determine optimal paper filing methods, how to create electronic folder structures and the proper way to discard information.  What are we waiting for?  We should strive to become the go-to department for everything information related. 

I’ve always believed the success of your RIM program can be measured by how often you are sought out for your expertise by the business units and IT.

#end-users #simplifying #ECM #e-discovery #filing #cloudcomputing #retrieval #RIM #ElectronicRecordsManagement #convenience #classifying


03-17-2014 11:42

Interesting post -- and here's an intended indirect consequence of other ECM initiatives that help RM. One problem is getting clear standards of records versus non-records that can get communicated and executed in normal business activities. ("Should I keep THIS copy of the customer document, or THIS one or THIS one -- not sure so I better print one out.")
One action that helps is e-signatures. If Legal and RM can't get clear policies fulfilled, then we've found that implemented e-signatures sometimes settles the matter -- the records-worthy document instance is also the instance that's necessary for staff to do business. This is just one way to embed good RIM policies into behavior and getting it to stick.

03-17-2014 10:14

Blake, this is a great post. I particularly like the measure of success you suggest. The folks running the RIM program need to measure themselves by how often they add value to the business units and IT. Simply being the RIM police is not an effective way to lead, and is unlikely to persuade knowledge workers to follow. The more we can make the underlying systems do the RIM work automatically, the better, but at the end of the day, RIM professionals need to walk in the shoes of the their fellow workers, and help them become successful.
As a side comment on the Einstein example, I once worked for a CEO who constantly complained about when they remodeled his office and put in two doors - one to the main hallway and one to his admin's desk area. He said it nearly doubled the number of decisions he had to make each day.