IG is Everyone's Problem Now - Page 2

Apr 28, 2011

Barclay Blair

As technology and the new forms of information created by that technology grows more complex, IG provides the foundation from which we can build processes and techniques to properly manage that information.

IG isn’t getting any easier so the time to act is now.

Reason #6: IG is the future of organizational culture

“While detailed knowledge of a single area once guaranteed success, today the top rewards go to those who can operate with equal aplomb in starkly different realms.”

- Daniel Pink, “A Whole New Mind”

IG makes sense because it reflects the future of organizational culture – diverse groups working together to solve complex problems. IG can help to foster this culture and lead organizational change.

In the bestselling book, A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink argues that the future belongs to those who can see across boundaries to envision the “connections between diverse, and seemingly separate, disciplines.” He posits that this ability is becoming essential to the success of individuals and organizations.

This theory is directly applicable to IG. IG, with its legal, technology, records management, and business elements, is by nature multi-disciplinary. Success in IG is synonymous with the ability to peer beyond the confines of one discipline to understand how each discipline connects with the others to solve the problem.

In Managing the Crowd: Rethinking Records Management for the Web 2.0 World, Steve Bailey suggests that “[r]ecords management has ... long been defined by the narrowness of its focus” But, records management shouldn’t be singled out. Just as records management has clung to the idea that it should only worry about one narrow class of information (i.e., records -- often in paper form), IT has largely refused to take management responsibility for the information flowing through its systems. Business leaders and attorneys have their own form of blinders that are a barrier to the connected thinking and problem solving that IG requires.

As a consultant, I have many times sat in windowless rooms drinking terrible coffee and mediating between these groups. Although this is rewarding work, the pattern is always the same: nobody understands that they are all trying to solve the same problem. Each group is more than willing to share their discipline’s view of the problem (often using their “outside voices”), but nobody believes that they “own” the IG problem as a whole.

And, in most cases they are right.

Corporate governance structures mostly have not evolved to address the complex issues of IG. The result? When the committees and task forces and working groups have all come and gone, nobody is on the line -- in their career and their paycheck -- for the success of the IG effort.

The flipside of this is equally true. When everyone owns a task, nobody in particular owns the task. Thus, nobody can be held accountable. Corporate structures aren’t very good at holding groups responsible, at least at the task level.

In mediating such sessions, I am most successful when each group learns -- often through a traumatic experience -- to empathize with the others (incidentally, another “right brain” quality that Pink points out as essential). Any guesses as to what the catalyst for this empathy is the majority of the time? Yep, lawsuits and investigations. Major business events that require legal, IT, records management, and business to work together -- often under enormous pressure -- to solve a common problem.

Barclay T. Blair is a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, software and hardware vendors, and government institutions, author, speaker, and internationally recognized authority on a broad range information governance issues. He is the founder and principal of ViaLumina Group, Ltd. His blog, Essays in Information Governance , is highly regarded in the information governance community. Barclay is the award-winning author of several books, including Information Nation, and is currently writing Information Governance for Dummies. Barclay is a faculty member of CGOC (

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