Trust: The foundation for Information Governance (Part One: People)

By Michele Kersey posted 04-08-2010 15:51


It’s Records and Information Management month. It’s also spring-time in Atlanta, and I have a wasp problem. Those pesky fliers are somehow finding their way inside my home. I asked my friend Kim what pest control service she uses. I trust Kim: she’s a long-term friend, lives close by, has high standards, and does not suffer foolish services gladly. I called the company that Kim recommended, and I’m hoping my wasp swatting days will soon end (at least inside my home!).

Organizations seeking to adopt enterprise electronic records management (ERM) and Information Governance (IG) strategies similarly turn to trusted leadership in their IT, RM, Legal, and line-of-business teams as subject matter experts for solutions. These stakeholders often apply the following paradigm:

People + Process + Technology = Success

The individual stakeholders frequently find themselves to be equipped with a baseline for the right People and Process elements, and seek assistance from IT stakeholders to determine appropriate Technology resources. Frequently, all stakeholders don’t necessarily know each other very well, and don’t always have a basis of trust in each others’ capacities. This leads to many ERM and IG projects being challenged, delayed, and sometimes thwarted by a fundamental lack of trust.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines trust as:

1 firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
2 acceptance of the truth of a statement without evidence or investigation.

Trusting People in ERM and IG Projects

From a business-social context, we generally trust our co-workers in the spirit of the first definition above. But when it comes to Information Governance initiatives, general trust won’t cut it. We have to know – with evidence and investigation – that our cross-functional counterparts understand the mission and its requirements as well as the legal ramifications and the business impacts of failure.

My druthers for the strategy equation is more accurately written as:

(Trusted)People + (Trusted)Process + (Trusted)Technology = (Trusted)Success

We trust people whose actions are reliable and predictable; who we see as similar to ourselves in terms of a shared effort or interest. Ultimately, we trust people we know and like (or at least respect). In many organizations, “knowing” fellow stakeholders is not at hand, and ERM and IG initiatives suffer for that lack. Disputes for control between RM, Legal, IT, and business leaders can devolve into “us vs. them” dialog, which can only result in a “we” failure by the business.

Stakeholder collaboration is crucial to nurture trusted relationships that build trusted processes and that select and implement trusted technologies. Many industry leaders – including AIIM, ARMA, The Sedona Conference, and, have espoused best practices for stakeholder collaboration. It’s not lip service. It’s necessary groundwork to achieve any meaningful, repeatable, and trustworthy results.

Building rapport with IG project counterparts starts the same as it does with any social group: leveraging shared social interests and objects; creating opportunities to dialog within and without the project context, in-person and with corporate social tools; sharing a meal or a game or a volunteer activity together. Breaking down the “us vs. we” tendency can yield that, as in other human contexts, we have much more in common than we think.

Please note:  Druthers expressed here are mine and not those of IBM or AIIM.

#People #Collaboration #trust #process #InformationGovernance #ElectronicRecordsManagement