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Getting a better seat at the information management table!

Authored by David Gould - Dec 1, 2022


While traveling to and from the American Records Management Association (ARMA) annual conference in Nashville two weeks ago, I read an interesting and entertaining book. Written in 2015, Rejection Proof is about overcoming rejection in the business world.

The book was written by author Jia Jiang, an entrepreneur whose dream of becoming the “next Bill Gates” was constantly crushed by heart-breaking rejection. After multiple failures, Mr. Jiang took a route of introspection that allowed him to make some startling discoveries about himself and other people when it came to dealing with rejection.

Mr. Jiang’s journey to learning more about why people say “no” involved creating one hundred situations where he would make requests to purposely get rejected. For example, he showed up at someone’s front door dressed in a soccer uniform, asking if he could practice his soccer kicking in that person’s backyard. He went to a fast-food restaurant that advertised unlimited drink refills to ask for a “free” burger refill.

On a Southwest Airlines flight, he asked a crew member if he could read the pre-flight safety announcement to the passengers. For the record, the restaurant manager said no to the free burger refill request. The homeowner said yes to the soccer practice! On the Southwest flight, Mr. Jiang was not allowed to make the safety announcement, but the flight attendant did allow him to speak to the passengers over the loudspeaker.

So why am I relating Mr. Jiang’s experience of rejection to my attendance at the ARMA conference?

A key theme at ARMA’s conference this year was advice on how records information management (RIM) professionals can get a better seat at the management table to help their organizations improve the management of information for compliance, regulatory response, privacy, and business decision-making.

One of the insights that I have learned from working with records managers and information governance professionals over a 15-year period is that, like Mr. Jiang, they have a healthy fear of rejection from being told “no” by those who control the budget and investment initiatives.

The hard truth is that the RIM function simply has not moved from the back to the front office in terms of shaping the direction of information management at their organizations. As a result, the RIM function has learned to grow content with being the custodians of information, but not the drivers on how to discover, understand, govern, and use information throughout the enterprise more effectively.

Recently, I had a conversation with a senior records manager at a government agency about plans to apply governance to their burgeoning Microsoft Teams environment. I specifically asked the level of interest to bring new governance tools into the enterprise to tackle this problem. She immediately said yes to my question about interest. When I followed up with a question about her plans to move forward on the initiative, she expressed a great deal of resistance and reticence. When I asked why, she explained that she was fearful her IT department would perceive it as  “stepping on their toes.” She told me that if she were to ask, not only would they reject her request out of hand because it was not her job, but it would open wider eyes to her team, potentially exposing them to questions about their purpose and effectiveness.

For RIM professionals, this is not an outlier occurrence. Because I speak to records managers and information governance professionals throughout the year, I have heard multiple stories that parallel the experience I just described.

Through these interactions, I have learned not only about information management programs and how organizations use their informational assets to make better business decisions, but also quite a bit about the personal psyche of records managers and information governance professionals. This is especially the case when asking for budget or resources to bring modern technologies into the enterprise to be able to better perform their jobs and provide more information value to their management.

One of the great insights in Rejection Proof is that it becomes natural for “rejected” people to view those who are doing the rejecting as adversaries. Mr. Jiang advises those who fear rejection to focus more on collaboration, where making requests are focused on the problem at hand. As he states in the book, the opposite of collaboration–argument–is a magnet for rejection: “When you are not afraid of rejection and it feels like you have nothing to lose, amazing things can happen!”

I am no stranger to rejection, either. My business mission has been to bring innovative ideas and technologies to records and information governance professionals. And sometimes, I am not always successful in achieving that goal. But, what I have found is that the collaboration concept, where you focus on the problem at hand, works best.

As Mr. Jiang states in the book, “One of the greatest lessons of my journey was that any rejection can have hidden upsides, if only we are willing to look for them.”

Let us explore that potential together! I look forward to speaking with you and solving problems together!

David Gould

EncompaaS Chief Customer Officer

Send an email to [email protected] for more information.

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