Messy Desks, Ediscovery, Retention, and Records Management

By Bryant Duhon posted 05-13-2010 15:38


Randomly skimming Amazon yesterday, looking for yet another book to buy that I don't really need, I stumbled across this book cover. It made me chuckle because it reminds me of my own desk (which I can't show you a photo of because, um, I couldn't find my camera--maybe it's not on my desk) and I ran a cover (or big feature art) similar to this in 1998 or so. Poor Benjamin Putt there has THE MESSIEST DESK in Mr. McPatrick's class -- maybe the world. As the book says: Eight hundred spelling lists/ From weeks and months gone by.

This got me thinking about a few things. First off, ediscovery. To me, if a lawyer walked in during a discovery request, saw this desk (ok, the desks below, that illustration is from a book for 6 year olds), I would think the thought bubble "Ka-ching!" would immediately appear over her head. It takes a while to read through paper files when they are well organized. When you have to organize them first . . . If these are the visible documents, what's stored electronically? Are the files as messy on the inside as they are on the outside here?

Second, hasn't this person heard of a scanner and document management?

Third, would a records manager go insane looking at a desk like that? Let's say that the retention plan was enforced perfectly, yet a stray copy was in a shared drive or squirrelled away on someone's desk. Isn't that discoverable? How do you get people to change their ways so that they do care about records management. Finally, because of the volume of information that comes across everyone's desk all the time, how do we use technology to automatically categorize it. Should we just give up, especially with email?

Finally, who's desk is messier than mine? I need to feel better about myself. So, after a quick search, here are some pretty cluttered workspaces.

From HR Space, a stunning example of massive piles of paper. Where's the fire extinguisher? Of course, any potential fire could be smothered with the towel hanging over the back of the chair.





And another excellent example from HR Space. At least this one looks like the piles are tidied, indicating an attempt to organize. Maybe.





"Hi. I'm a Mac." I thought Mac users were supposed to be cool, clean, and sophisticated. What even IS most of the stuff on this desk?

Feeling better and better about myself.

Example from Klik TV.





This from a Spring Cleaning contest at Gizmodo. I wasn't all that impressed with this one at first. However, the tiny stool intrigues me. Is that the chair or just a footstool?

Just. Wow. Even I would have gotten rid of the CRTs. When Benjamin tries to clean up his desk, he is sucked inside. I think he's in here.




Finally, for those of you who want to be organized, but can't be bothered, no less of an authority than the New York Times gives us "Say Yes to the Mess." (free reg required). If that's not enough, here's Einstein's desk as it was the day he died.



(Just make sure your electronic records and files are organized.)

#retention #e-discovery #Records-Management #ElectronicRecordsManagement