Records Inventorying: Deontic Questions with Criterial Leap

By Mimi Dionne posted 11-03-2010 02:39



So, I’m trying a new (for me) inventorying technique: deontic questions with criterial leap.

I know, I know--but stay with me here. 

Basically it’s active listening influenced by the presuppositions of conditional probability (or the probability of an event occurring, given that another event has already occurred).  Expressed in terms: if A exists, then surely B and C follow…but maybe not.  The winding road that takes you to your destination (an overall view of your organization’s information pathways) is the joy of the exercise.  Think of it as your choices on Google Maps when you seek directions: you can drive, walk, or ride public transportation, yes?  This visual provides you with the shortest or most scenic route for information workflows.

The trick is mapping out in front of the customer how the deontic style illustrates a potential electronic records management object structure.  Begin with threading the four major themes: colleagues, information locations, processes, and retention. Each node is a corner of a rectangle which subdivides further into the appropriate functional grouping.  As the subdivisions move outward, pretty soon you’ve got a fractal.

For example, at an organizational level, information locations could divide into commercial-off-the-shelf applications, built in-house applications, and customized. Then each sub-node is further divided into departments’ applications.  These applications listings are tied then to an architectural location, which in turn references a node in another document: the ESI data map. The connection from the fractal to the map is the criteria leap.  Your reference points can then be indexed across your data and records library. Tag, you’re it (literally).

The positives:

  • this method counts on the participation of the audience
  • it spurs wonderful debate
  • colleagues view Records competencies differently

The negatives:

  • not everyone would know their architectural locations
  • some colleagues don’t want to share too much
  • it works well with folder classification; less well with metadata

I find it very easy to transform my fractal into a qualitative report for management.  Thus far I’ve had a lot of success with it.  In fact, some meetings I’ve scheduled for 1.5 hours extend to 2.5.  We all have fun, too--this method really speaks to the client.  Try it and let me know what you think!

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