Steve Weissman’s (current title: Minister of Process & Information Betterment for Holly Group) knowledge of ECM is both wide and deep. He’s been an active AIIM member for years, and I’ve had the good luck of having had him make me look good as an editor from his article contributions. Of course, my enduring image of this Massachusetts Yankee is of him dressed as a Confederate Colonel at a Southern restaurant in Atlanta. Read more about Steve.
Duhon: What do you do and how did you get there?
Weissman: I’m an independent consultant who provides expert guidance and professional training in process and information management, advising and educating clients about working better and working better together, and deriving maximum total value from their enabling technologies.
I often tell people that I got here because I lost a bet! But the truth is that I kind of lucked into a career. As a public relations major in my junior year at Boston University, I wrote to PR firms in the Yellow Pages (remember those?) looking for a paid internship. Well, one company I wrote to had gone out of business, but the boss at the company that next occupied the office suite called me back, and I was off to the races. Today, we’d call that kind of company an analyst firm, and I’ve been doing it ever since!
Duhon: What was your best day at work? Worst?
Weissman: What an interesting question! So many good days to pick from ... being on Entertainment Tonight as an expert in satellite-delivered cable television programming (so long ago that the “ESPN” actually stood for something) … meeting the girl who eventually became my wife the day I started at Arthur D. Little … hanging out my first consulting shingle as Kinetic Information ... figuring out how to do green-screen videos and having my 9-year-old son hold the cue cards!
Worst day? 9/11, hands down. I was just arriving at a client’s location, and they had people in the Twin Towers. Never mind that I grew up near New York and thus had a personal connection to the tragedy, but the frantic phone calling and news-watching my clients were doing is something I’ll never forget.
You might also say it was the best day, because I was on a plane on 9/9. How fortunate I was to already be safely home!
Duhon: What are you proudest of?
Weissman: That I’ve been able to maintain something of a work/life balance in a field that is notorious for burning people out! It’s not that I’m achieving perfect equilibrium every week, or maybe even every month. But I’ve been fortunate overall to be able to be there when my kids got home from school, to attend their plays, to coach their teams, and to do all the other stuff (the fun and not-so-fun) that makes life so rich. And once and a while, I even get to do things with my wife!
Duhon: We've talked about this, and you write about it a lot: what is the most frequent "reason" that companies turn to technology as savior and forget about the people and "is-it-a-fit-for-my-business" part?
Weissman: I see a couple of things at work in this regard: (a) the technology generally works so well that organizations think it is some sort of magic pill, and (b) managers think technology can force people to be more productive. Of course, neither of these it right.
To be fair, companies don’t set out to think this way. But they may not know any better going into an initiative, and Google searches, vendor brochures, and customer case studies can easily leave them with these impressions.
My frustration is that technology actually can be – and frequently is – incredibly effective. BUT ... boosting productivity, improving efficiency, and maximizing the total value of your solution require that you dig deep into your business processes and meaningfully involve your people. And that’s a lot of work compared to ordering a piece of technology off of some vendor’s menu.
Duhon: What is your No. 1. goal today-and what is your greatest content-related challenge?
Weissman: At the risk of sounding like a Miss America contestant (“world peace”!), I’m working very hard to help organizations maximize the total value of their information and their information systems. It drives me crazy when I see time and money spent, even with the best intentions, on solutions that end up not really satisfying the people they are supposed to help. To be sure, setting strategy, writing RFPs, and managing change all as much art as science, but there are certain touchstones to use to ensure successful outcomes, and my goal is to impart this wisdom wherever and whenever I can.
Duhon: You are, literally, the face of AIIM's Certified Information Professional (CIP) via the 100 plus videos; what's your view of this certification from AIIM?
[Watch the CIP Training videos here.]
Weissman: In a word, “it’s about time!” OK, that’s three words. And truly, I mean this in a congratulatory way, not a snarky one!
My stance for a decade and a half has been that organizations must look at process and information management as holistically as possible, to stop setting one strategy for “data,” another for “records,” a third for “content,” a fourth for “Web content,” etc. It’s all information, it’s all important, and when you get right down to it, it’s really only the tools that may need to be different.
So I was all over it when AIIM approached me about developing prep videos for a new certification that takes this same essential view. The CIP covers everything from databases to delivery, and it rightly puts the person – the “information professional” – at the center, not the technology.
The bottom line is that I think it’s great, even if it may be overdue. And yes, before you ask the next question, I do think it will establish itself as something employers and customers will look for, like CRM and PMP but in a different context. We just need to give it time to reach that point. (Anybody want to take a class? Call me!)
Duhon: You've been very active in the AIIM NE chapter for years; why?
Weissman: You know, my wife asks me that every time I volunteer to do something new! :-)
The straight answer is that I want to give back to an organization and a community that I have enjoyed and benefited from for many years. I also believe in the notion of “paying it forward,” and hope that any good I can help do for members (and non-members, for that matter!) will inspire them to do the same for someone else.
Duhon: Why do you consider yourself an information professional?
Weissman: Because I earned the degree? <g> No, seriously – because I make a living thinking about the best ways to help organizations unleash the power of their data, knowledge, content – whatever you want to call it. It’s all about serving customers better ... making better decisions ... turning potential into performance on so many levels. It’s as much as a business profession as being a CEO or a CPA, and it is especially important because of its ability to boost the value of the technologies and technical professionals that are so important to businesses today.
Just for fun:
Duhon: What are your three favorite websites?
Duhon: What are the three greatest books ever written-and what's on your nightstand today?
Weissman: - Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand ... a “capitalist manifesto,” but not necessarily what political convenience sometimes positions it to be
- Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin ... an amazing lesson in what leadership really is
- Beach Chairs and Baseball Bats ... the one I wrote about the Cape Cod Baseball League! (OK, maybe not)
Duhon: What are the three greatest movies of all time-and what's the last one you've seen?
Weissman: Three great movies:
- All the President’s Men
- Bull Durham/Field of Dreams (tie)
- Tower Heist
Duhon: What was your first concert-and what are the three greatest songs on your iPod?
Weissman: First concert: Harry Chapin, from stage seats at my high school on Long Island, NY, which is where he was from. Somehow fitting that he died on the LI Expressway, on his way to perform a free concert.
- New York State of Mind, by Billy Joel
- Choo Choo Ch’Boogie, by Asleep at the Wheel
- Baby It’s Cold Outside, by Zooey Deschanel in the movie Elf#ECM #KineticInformation #CIP #AIIMNE