How are you keeping score in records?

This is more of an informal survey than a blog post. I’m really interested in what you think. If you comment, I’ll add your answers to the end of this post.

How do you keep score?

How do you know when you’re winning?

What’s the metric that lets you go home at the end of a week/month/year knowing you’ve done well?

I’m going to update this page with everyone’s comments. I think it’s an important issue for all of us.

The one critical skill that will make or break your Records Program.

The critical skill that makes or breaks every records program is the ability to get managers to manage the records performance of their direct reports.

When frontline managers include records in their management practice, frontline workers keep records.

When middle managers manage frontline managers on the records performance of their team, frontline managers teams keep records.

When senior executives manage middle managers on the records performance of their frontline teams, the whole organisation underneath them keep records.

This makes the ability to persuade senior executives to take records seriously a critical skill.

In Government in particular, single managers can derail whole records programs – and the same goes for digital initiatives. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve seen this in action.

I’ve seen one side of an organisation move to electronic records and another side stay on paper – because one senior executive liked their EA to print documents for them, and liked signing ceremonies on Friday mornings.

I’ve also seen the records performance of a team completely change (in both directions), because of a change of manager.

While the ability to persuade on a 1:1 basis at low levels of an organisation can have an impact, it’s only a matter of time before that 1 runs into a deadline set by their manager and doesn’t keep a record because the manager doesn’t care about the record.

There are many approaches to this problem – but the most important thing is that we see it as a critical problem for records to solve.

The other option is to say “it’s not my job to persuade” – which is partly true, and partly why records is a mess in many organisations. Most people I’ve found with this attitude didn’t get there because they don’t care, they got there because they care deeply and tried and failed many, many times. 

All of this leaves me with two questions:

  1. What’s your general approach to persuading management?
  2. How have you found inspiration when you’ve become that person who failed to persuade?

How to explain to people in your business that isn’t really very good at the kind of search they want.

I’m regularly told that people want the google experience at work.

I know what they mean.

They mean “we want to find what we want”.

But Google isn’t actually very good at this when what you want is a specific thing.

Where Google excels is search problems where we can define the search problem as:

  1. Show me something popular.
  2. Show me some information about a thing, I don’t really care where it comes from – just that it’s popular.
  3. Show me some information about a thing, I don’t really care if it’s trustworthy or not, just that lots of people link to it.
  4. Show me some information, I don’t care whether or not it’s findable in a week or a month.

Google solves the problem of finding what’s popular, now.

Business search problems though, are almost always about what’s unpopular, specific and authoritative.

And Google isn’t very good at those.

For what it’s worth, Google recognises that the search it provides isn’t the right search for every situation, it’s why we have Google Scholar.

Keeping our eye on the prize to make sure the Records profession survives

The largest opportunity of “born-digital” records, is to make the business value of records “very soon, to me”.

Records are more valuable when they’re more useful.

When they’re critical on a day to day basis, they get executive support, investment and care.

Process workers treat them with reverence, and invest time in them.

They are valued.

Business value of records has always been difficult. 

The value of keeping records has often been “just in case” it “might be valuable” to “someone”

The prize though, is now, and has always been “very soon, to me.”

When we take our eye off this, organisations invent whole other professions to do it. 

Not making the value of our records “very soon, to me” is an existential threat to the Records Management profession.

What will be sad about this, is that there’s an up-swing in the recognition of the value of good records going on right now.

For the last three years, I’ve had a Google alert on a couple of topics around Record Keeping and Management.

What has been really surprising is that the academic papers coming through aren’t papers about records.

This excerpt is from a paper titled “Strategies for Quality Milk Production”

v) Proper record management and goals for udder health status 

Proper record keeping is the essence of proper monitoring. Periodic review of the udder health management programme helps in timely corrective interventions. Establishment of realistic periodic targets for various udder health parameters is the final step of a complete udder health management program. The goals should be realistic.

This is about records that have value “very soon, to me”.

That’s the prize.

Either we will capture it, or another profession will.