A true confession: I read Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” every six months to evaluate the development of my ethical compass. I need this book. Every so often a colleague will do something erratic and if, after much thought I cannot determine why, Greene usually leads me to the root cause. It hasn’t always been a personal tool. I’ve also compared The Laws against typical behaviors by project team and stakeholders of an electronic records management project. Judge for yourself whether or not this is suitable.
Law 1: Never outshine the master. True. Whether you’re the Records Analyst to the Records Director or the Records Director to the CIO, you are the moon to their sun. Hey, everyone reports to somebody.
Law 2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies. Let’s amend this one slightly. It’s useful to identify the foes of an electronic records project. Sometimes these colleagues immediately self-identify themselves (rather proudly, too) during introductions; sometimes they work more quietly. Here’s a key phrase to look for during the interview process to judge whether or not you’ll be successful: bottom-up approach. If anyone so much as whispers to you about level of effort as bottom-up, run. Run like the wind.
Law 3: Conceal your intentions. No help for this one—you’re building an electronic records management repository. It’s a political hot potato if you’re using a classic electronic records management software’s or MOSS 2007’s cold repository interface. If you’re using the warmer SharePoint 2010, it will be less problematic thanks to records mise-en-place. Project management techniques to create above-board documentation are the order of the day. For example, take and distribute meeting minutes, work breakdown structures, and project schedule updates promptly. Transparency is best. The fundamental question is: when do we get transparent?
Law 4: Always say less than necessary. Not only true, but also very true. Be gravely aware of your communication techniques. Your internal customers will always associate what you say with how you say it. On bad days, it’s better to not speak at all. On good days, temper your enthusiasm with caution—no head bopping or wide grins on your face. If people are looking at you with a sideways glance, you’ve garnered too much attention. Don’t be surprised by the strange expressions from peers as you walk down the hall.
Law 5: So much depends on your reputation—guard it with your life. I have mixed feelings about this rule, because I learned early in my career if I judge anyone too harshly it shows my own narrowness of mind. Today I compartmentalize very well and I don’t invest in over thinking to determine someone else’s motives--I don’t have the time. Besides, each day is fresh with no mistakes in it for me--why not give everyone the same advantage? If I’m ever in an unsuccessful marketing electronic records meeting, I look at the person opposite me who is objecting to, well, everything and I think, “I wish you peace.” You’d be amazed what that phrase does for your wrinkles (hint: they vanish).
Law 6: Court attention at all costs. What kinds of attention? Records should not condone maladjusted “look-at-me”. Records and information management includes security, privacy, disclosure, retention, and information technology competencies for all of the internal customers who can sincerely use electronic records management. Calculating the hard and soft returns is the goal, from the number of pages scanned to the level of effort saved in resources by quick search and retrieval.
Law 7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit. Absolutely, positively not. Unacceptable. Dear self-promoter: your behavior is obvious and it WILL catch up with you (usually in the worst professional moment). Records departments are not huge today—because of role-based security and the appropriate checks and balances, the electronic records effort will be shared by all. Your team should be respectful to you in your position as leader, but always remember: an Analyst is a Director in disguise.
Law 8: Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary. In other words, if you build it, they will come. So go to accounting and legal with, “I have this capability…” and build slowly outward. News travels fast in Vienna. Small successes lead to a very positive electronic records management experience for your internal customers. Which leads to number nine…
Law 9: Win through your actions, never through argument. I studied debate for a long time and you know what? The truth is very few colleagues discuss records best practices and theory in a corporate setting, even if you do pepper your comments with catch words such as “compliance” or “resonate”. Do as the mighty Benedon advised: inventory and store. With particularly clannish environments, be prompt, be ready with the correct information, and if you’re not too new, anticipate needs. Trust will out.
There are more laws and I’ll write more on them. I began comparing my laws against Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” when I entered the profession (gad, I just celebrated my ten year anniversary in May! I can’t believe how the time has flown!). The charted contrast to Greene has been a personal diary of mine…a journal of personal and professional discovery. Reviewing my earliest efforts now, I smile, roll my eyes, and laugh at myself. But I wasn’t always wrong. I’ve come a long way, baby. My ethical compass is experienced.
*©Jimi Hendrix and estate, 1967.
#electronic records management #ProjectManagement #RobertGreene