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RECMGMT-L  January 2016, Week 5

RECMGMT-L January 2016, Week 5

Subject:

Re: Concept of ‘transitory records’ should be tossed altogether, not just redefined

From:

John James O'Brien <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 30 Jan 2016 15:26:25 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (48 lines)

As one raising the danger of transitory records schedules for years, I have
found that it can be difficult to buck the trend other than in organizations
under one's own control (to the degree that happens). In my view, it is one
of many missed opportunities to educate decision makers in favour of taking
an easier out. The wording of the schedule can make a difference, of course,
but format is not a record value.

"Managing" records by declaring them not to be so is often a huge mistake.
Pretending that text messages, even annotated napkins and matchbook covers,
have no record values flies in the face of the role of professional records
managers. It's about resources and the relative ease of screening out
(elimination prior to evaluation of content) rather than screening in
(classifiying).

Earlier in my career in Canada, an Assistant Deputy Minister tried using the
matchbook example, encouraging a committee full of ADMs and the Deputy
Minister to scoff at RIM as a whole. I pointed out, using his example, that
if he and the Deputy had come to an agreement that he felt needed to be
noted down on a matchbook, then yes, that's evidence of a decision and a
record under relevant legislation. It was an entirely different matter
between him and his boss as to his choice not to properly capture the
content back at the office. 

In Hong Kong, I led a session consisting of about 50/50 senior and junior
staff in which text messaging arose. A senior leader declared that this was
not an issue affecting the organization. Exchanged glances and body language
among the junior staff told another story. By the end of a session with much
tentative disclosure, it was clear that junior staff regularly avoided a
perceived overly bureaucratic and regimented knowledge management tool
through the use of personal devices that enabled getting the job done in a
timely and convenient way--and that senior staff were often included but did
not perceive themselves to be doing what, in fact, they did almost daily.
Decisions were regularly made that were not captured
contemporaneously--sometimes at all--in the official systems. 

Governance practices need to take into account the reality of workplace
culture and face squarely the unspoken truths about existing systems (IT and
otherwise). 

Integrating assessment of record value into taxonomy design is independent
of media. Integrating means to manage multiple media in accord with content
value, media and contextual characteristics is a subsequent step. Many
organizations reverse these steps to their own detriment.

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