As noted in Part 1, attention is always in short supply in organizations, and especially so for executive management. Amidst the distractions and complexity of today’s businesses, executives often use a relevance filter – “is what I’m asked to support relevant to what drives our organization to success? Will it help move us ahead, or get in our way?”
No matter the anticipated benefits of an IG initiative, if what is proposed does not align with the organization’s business model, it will be difficult to demonstrate its relevance, and the proposed initiative will likely never be fully considered by management, much less approved and supported over time.
Alignment With the Business Model/Brand
There is profound value to be realized by aligning information practices with the organization’s business model or brand. Such alignment reinforces the organization’s fundamental values, because information is managed in a way that fits the organization’s desired culture. All of the subtle (or unsubtle) cues that consistently drive behavior to conform to the organization’s business model can be harnessed to elicit the right behaviors under your Information Governance initiative. Alignment allows your IG initiative to swim with the current, instead of against it.
Alignment also helps bust through silos that impede Information Governance. When the projects and strategic objectives of an IG initiative clearly advance the core values and business model of the organization as a whole, the initiative has a better chance of overcoming the parochial interests of silos within the organization.
Compelling examples are found in the Sedona Conference Commentary on Information Governance, highlighting such alignments of Information Governance with four prevalent, contrasting business models.
These businesses are laser-focused on operational efficiency and cost control, such as companies in high-volume, low-margin industries or market segments. Low-cost providers should be motivated to avoid squandering money on information inefficiency and unnecessary retention. They may adopt Information Governance practices to streamline information workflows and reduce unnecessary information storage and retention, thereby reducing costs and increasing business efficiency.
These organizations are driven by creative innovation and excellence in products and services. Innovative excellence companies should want to optimize their information’s value in fueling such innovation. They may adopt Information Governance practices to maximize the value of their information assets, helping them to capture valuable information for innovative repurpose while minimizing the distraction of unnecessary information.
These organizations, including publicly traded companies and those in highly regulated industries, espouse integrity and ethics as core values. Such businesses should avoid failing to adopt measures that treat their information as a valuable asset and that detect and prevent compliance lapses. They may implement Information Governance practices as a crucial complement to their internal control systems and ethics and integrity programs, to ensure information-related legal compliance and enhanced risk management.
These firms center themselves on the core value of being a trusted business provider or adviser to those they serve. Trusted providers or advisers should want to avoid being seen as careless with the information entrusted to them. They may adopt Information Governance practices to strengthen their safeguards for information that customers or clients entrust to them, and to enhance third-party perceptions of them as reliable, trusted custodians for such protected, proprietary, or confidential information.
So, by all means build the foundation for your Information Governance initiative by selecting the right initial project(s), with outcomes, measures, and a business case, and by tying them to your most compelling strategic objectives for governing information compliance, cost, risk, and value. But don’t stop there – make sure that your initiative closely aligns with your organization’s business model. In other words, make sure executive management can clearly see the initiative’s relevance to what drives your organization’s success.