What will you take to your grave?

By Sanooj Kutty posted 05-12-2010 08:08


“The only thing a man takes to his grave is his Knowledge. Acquire when alive, distribute before death.” ~ Late K. A. Abu Backer, my grandfather and a high school Math teacher.

If not in his true sense, the fossils and historical tombs like the Pyramids have surely carried with them knowledge. How else would we know that the Egyptians must have used the Pythagoras Theorem to build their Pyramids?

These fossils and Pyramids and other historical remains and relics are nothing but an organic records keeping exercise conducted either by nature or man’s ego.  These have over time given future generations an insight into the past, to learn from it and also recover lost knowledge through them.

Much is being spoken today about Information Governance or ERM or Rose or whatever name you or Shakespeare may want to call it. And yes, organizations have been fined from thousands to millions of dollars due to poor records keeping practices and we still see these happening on a day to day basis.

This makes me wonder if Governance, Best Practices and Technology can help an organization maintain its records and more importantly, if litigation and risk should be the key reasons for records management.

Recently, during a Process Information gathering exercise, my business users were to fill in what records they manage, who creates/owns them and where do they archive it. This knowledge was easily available to them and they were quite forthcoming with their information. But, when it came to retention period I got answers ranging from 1 year to forever. I even had someone ask me why we need to keep them.

What was even more interesting was that these users were lower or middle management, the very same people who would be working hands on with the very same records and guiding others on a daily basis. Some knew they were for regulatory compliance. What nobody knew was why the regulatory authority had such regulations.

The biggest challenge in records management today is not the lack of governance, standards or technology. Instead, it is the lack of awareness from people that records are also your knowledge warehouse so that you can learn from the past, capture your transactions of today and transfer them as lessons to the future.

Legal and financial risk management to records management is what selling is to business development, core competence.

Finally, as the legendary Spanish-American philosopher, George Santayana said, “Those who do not read history is doomed to repeat it”.

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