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3 Critical Qualities of Resilient Information Leaders

“Resilience” has become a buzzword, as all seemingly simple and intuitive psychological concepts do once they penetrate our public (and commercial) consciousness. The current buzz around resilience, whether applied to the environmentcompanies, or children, originated in the field of psychology with researchers trying to determine what makes one person seemingly bulletproof while another, who appears to have every emotional advantage, crumbles when faced with minor adversity. Resilience even has its own counter-buzz, signaling that it has conclusively reached memetic status.

Studies of resilience focus on how we respond to both “environmental” threats—problems that are chronic and less intense but no less difficult—as well as “acute” threats that cause shorter bursts of intense adversity or trauma.

Information leaders face both types of adversity. “House on fire” emergencies like lawsuits, investigations, and cybersecurity breaches represent acute, intense threats that can be all consuming but relatively short in duration. Information leaders also face chronic adversity and threat, often in the form of problems that continue to emerge and reemerge—including long-term efforts to build and enforce an information governance program; evaluating, purchasing, and implementing enterprise software; or guiding a years-long change management program, to name a few.

What Builds Resilience?

Norman Garmezy was a pioneer in the study of psychological resilience. His critical insight was that studying successful people could yield insights not likely to come from studying failure (the common approach at the time). His research led to the identification of several “protective factors” that resilient people have.

Not surprisingly, this research also found that pure luck is a big factor. Some people with an otherwise tough life find a great mentor, bond with an emotionally mature caregiver, find easy financial success, and so on. Others have no luck other than bad luck and it simply overwhelms them no matter what their other qualities.

Luck is no small factor in the lives of information leaders. Sometimes the server just blows up. Sometimes a crucial staff member falls ill or leaves. Management priorities change. Sometimes “mistakes are made,” and there is nothing that anyone could have done to anticipate or prevent them. Recognizing bad luck and not feeling responsible for it or allowing it to drive magical thinking about being “cursed” is a key “protective factor” exhibited by resilient people generally and resilient information leaders specifically.

All resilient people have common qualities. At the Information Governance Initiative, through our research and experience working with IG professionals—including those leading incredibly stressful projects like e-discovery in “bet-the-company” litigation and security breaches—we have learned that resilient information leaders also share many common qualities.

Here are three of those qualities. Join our webinar where we will reveal more details about these and the other six habits that resilient e-discovery leaders share. The 9 Habits of Resilient e-Discovery Leaders webinar is hosted by EDRM.

1. They don’t try to be heroes.

In the face of acute adversity, resilient e-discovery and information governance leaders avoid the misguided sense of heroism that is often associated with focusing on a crisis to the exclusion of everything else. American business in particular has canonized and internalized the image of the cowboy: the rugged individual with a complete absence of emotional need, a singular focus on getting the job done no matter what, and a superhuman ability to do it all himself. The lie of this myth is born out in study after study showing stress levels going up and productivity, health, and job satisfaction levels going down in workplaces that implicitly encourage, and explicitly reward, this behavior.

Neglecting personal relationships and sacrificing wellbeing by eating poorly and shirking exercise have real consequences over the long term—something that resilient information leaders recognize and incorporate into their working life, even when “the house is on fire."

Although times of crisis may demand periods of extreme intensity and long hours, they are not sustainable; nor, in most cases, is the damage of trying to sustain this posture—anxiety, insomnia, elevated cholesterol, depression—worth the reward.

2. They play to their strengths—and acknowledge their weaknesses.

Resilient people do not need to be gifted people. In fact, research from developmental psychologist Emmy Werner has shown that a more reliable predictor of resilience is the ability to put your skills to work effectively. For an information professional in the early part of your career, this means learning what your real strengths and weaknesses are, and seeking roles that play to your strengths and minimize opportunities for your weaknesses to limit you. This does not mean avoiding new challenges—in fact, a predictable quality of resilient people is that they seek out new experiences and challenges. However, it does mean understanding your strengths and seeking ways to learn about, identify, and apply them at their full potential.

For information leaders in mid-career and beyond, this also means having the wisdom to supplement your weaknesses by delegating, building a team that complements each other, and hiring deputies who have the strengths you lack but are necessary for e-discovery success. For example, if you have a deep technical understanding but are terrible at putting together a project plan, seek out those who are amazing project managers.

3. They don’t grant failure undue power.

Fulfilling our potential as people, and as information leaders, is dependent upon our ability to absorb, bounce back from, and learn from mistakes and failures. One of the most powerful predictors of resilience is how we perceive potentially traumatic events. In fact, how you view an event, like a stressful and scary e-discovery demand, actually determines whether or not it is in fact ultimately traumatic.

The research gets even more fascinating, clearly showing that exposure to events that could be very traumatic does not actually predict how well a person will function in the future. Rather, the most reliable predictor is the way that person views, or “construes,” an event. This does not mean that we must be Pollyannas or deify the “power of positive thinking,” but it does demonstrate the objective effect that our response to difficult events actually has on whether or not we are traumatized by them. The best news is that the ability to construe potentially painful events in a way that minimizes their harm can actually be taught and learned—with practice and a lot of patience.

Our ability to bear adversity in both our personal and working lives is ultimately simple math: i.e., is the depth of the adversity greater than our resilience? Everyone has a breaking point. Highly resilient people have a higher breaking point. It is important, and I believe uplifting, to realize that these qualities can in large measure be learned. One powerful learning technique is modeling people we aspire to be like, and in the information governance community we are we are fortunate to have so many great e-discovery leaders who we can learn from as true models of resilience.

 

Guest Post: Valuation of Information

The following is part of our guest blog series.

Jane C. Allen and Brian Fox, who advise organizations on e-discovery, forensics, and a broad range of additional IG topics in their roles at PwC, wrote this piece, and it is published as it was provided. PwC is an IGI Supporter

Information valuation is the topic of the keynote address at the CIGO Summit. PwC will also be there talking about their model, and we also have a deep dive session on models and calculators that are in use now at several organizations. There are still a few seats left -  register here. 

The Information Economy

It’s often been said that we are in an information economy. But what is the actual value of the information that’s driving it, and how do you measure it?

Is your information an intangible asset such as goodwill? Is it related to the volume or recency of data? Setting aside the accounting implications of information value measurement on balance sheets and overall company valuation, the idea of being able to use valuation as a means of weighing the economics of our own efforts around information governance is compelling.

That’s why we created this framework, which we call VOI — valuation of information.

(Some) Information Has Value

The notion of information having business value is not new.

Consider the willingness of investors to buy stocks in companies that hold information — even in apparent contravention of their financial performance. Or the large-scale IPOs or acquisitions of data-based companies (often devoid of significant physical assets), even with formal accompanying statements that the company may never make a profit.

There are countless other examples (both legal and illegal) where data is valued — bought and sold, for commercial purposes. But there’s a missing piece to the discussion, which is the implication that information is somehow a monolithic thing. Anyone who works in the field of information governance knows that nothing could be further from the truth.

All Information Is Not Created Equal

Let’s look at some examples. Some information is highly valuable: Think customer buying activity data or the explosive growth of “Internet of Things” devices carefully collecting and curating data on our every move. These are the data we expend significant effort and resources maintaining, protecting, mining and analyzing.

Some information could be highly valuable, if only the attributes of the data were a little better — better quality, a larger population, a little more normalized, a little better managed. (Think of the potential, for example, of activity trackers that collect geolocation, activity, weight, demographics, etc.)

Some information has no value, or at least none that you can perceive today. (We’ve never met a company that argued when we showed them that a very large percentage of their enterprise information went unused for five years or longer.) Even if there were some “secret gems” hiding in the oceans of dead data, expensive work would need to be done — in forms of both time and money — before you knew if you could extract a net value.

Some information costs you money, either because it is misleading, inaccurate, too inaccessible or has too great a noise-to-signal ratio and therefore impairs your ability to find truly valuable information.

No Assets Without Liabilities: It’s True of Information, Too

Many companies employ third parties at significant cost to perform data analysis that is too difficult for them to produce on their own. Many are mindful of the potential risk exposure that could arise in the wake of a cyber-breach, and are forearming themselves with cyber-insurance.

Clearly, information valuation is fraught with practical difficulties. If the aim is to value information assets, we must also be willing to consider information liabilities. We must consider the ways in which information can be improved (or can deteriorate) — and how that could impact its value over time. And crucially, we must account for one of the particularities of information: the fact that, unlike other assets, the same information can be used in many different cases — with a commensurately accretive value.

What’s needed is a systematic approach that enables a company to evaluate units of information — one that acknowledges imperfections, reveals opportunities and guides our resource allocation in a rational way. In this spirit, we offer a framework for the Valuation of Information (VOI).

The VOI Framework

Our VOI framework is composed of twelve dimensions grouped into four categories. The attributes are used to measure the business value of the information in the service of a specific use case.

The four categories are:

  1. Information Scope. How closely does the breadth (in time and population), depth and completeness of the information match the ideal data set for a given use case?
  2. Information Quality. How well does the quality of data elements, their structure and the traceability of the information support confidence in the analysis for a given use case?
  3. Information Accessibility. How easy is it to access, analyze and manipulate the information for a given use case, and how easy is it to integrate the information with other key systems in that use case?
  4. Information Scarcity. Sometimes it is the scarcity of information that drives its value. In such use cases, this category measures how unique the information at hand is, both today and into the future.

PwC Valuation of Information Model

Put VOI to Good Use

We hope this new VOI framework will help companies think differently about their information and explore new use cases that could bring needed attention to potentially hidden value, previously unexplored. And while we acknowledge that there is much room for debate and refinement, we think this is a meaningful first step to the process of credibly tackling information valuation — with potential for real-world, short-term benefits.

Information valuation is the topic of the keynote address at the CIGO Summit. PwC will also be there talking about their model, and we also have a deep dive session on models and calculators that are in use now at several organizations. There are still a few seats left -  register here. 

 

Support Our 2017 Research Into Governance Of Long-Term Digital Information

UPDATE: THIS SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED
THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

Results will be published shortly.
Join the IGI Community to receive an
automatic update when this research is published.

We are pleased once again to be working with IGI Supporter Preservica to conduct research into the critical issue of long-term digital information. In 2016, with the generous support of Preservica, we conducted benchmark research in this area, finding that virtually every organization surveyed (98%) has digital records and information it must keep (or wants to keep) for longer than ten years, but very few (16%) have a viable approach.

In 2017 we are continuing our research in this area by conducting a short survey of information professionals that delves further into this critical issue, focusing on the specific external drivers (like laws and regulations), business processes, and risk and value-focused goals that inform organizational strategy on long-term records and information.

This survey will only be open for two weeks, so please take a few moments to complete it today. The survey is open to all IG practitioners (i.e., those people charged with doing some type of IG work at and for the organization at which they work - not for an external customer or client).

The results will be made available through a report freely available in our Community Site and we will also be reporting results at the 2017 MER Conference, and at our annual Chief Information Governance Officer Summit, happening May 10-11, 2017 in Chicago, IL. Don’t forget to register today.

 

We Are Less Than One Month Away from the 2017 CIGO Summit

It’s time for the Third Annual Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) Summit. The CIGO Summit is a by-invitation-only, executive event for senior leaders in cybersecurity, information management, law, privacy, data analytics, records management, compliance, and other IG-related disciplines.

The age of big data means organizations have more information under their control than ever before. Unlocking the true potential of your data starts with having a new kind of information leader: the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO). How exactly is a CIGO critical to their organization’s success? We’re asking you to help us answer that question.

Our roster of 2017 speakers for the CIGO Summit, happening May 10-11 in Chicago, will lend invaluable insight across the IG board. With participating experts from many different facets of Information Governance, we will be hearing from Mark Milone (Senior Counsel, The Boeing Company), Doug Meier (Director of Trust & Compliance, Pandora)Aaron Murphy (Information Governance Manager, McCormick & Co.), and Roman Coleman (Attorney, The Options Clearing Corporation) to name a few. To see the full list of speakers, click here. Join us May 10-11, 2017 in Chicago for another fabulous, idea-rich event with some of the best and brightest minds in IG.

We look forward to seeing you!

 

Support International Research Into IG at Public Authorities

The IGI is proud to support the work of institutions around the world doing research and and other work to promote our understanding and adoption of IG as a discipline and a profession.

One of those group is the InterPARES Trust, a multi-national, interdisciplinary research project exploring issues concerning digital records and data entrusted to the Internet. Our friend and colleague Vicki Lemieux (who has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of these issues) has asked us to let you know about a research project that could use your help.

Their research survey aims to capture perspectives on the nature of Information Governance in order to enhance their understanding of this developing domain.

In particular, they are focusing on those with IG experience within public authorities.

So if this is you, please take a few moments today and complete the survey. The survey has 15 optional questions and should take about 10 minutes. You can also save your work and come back to it later. The survey closes on April 3 at 4 pm PST.

The research is a partnership between the iSchools at UCL (Dr. Elizabeth Lomas, Dept. Information Studies) and University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland (Dr. Basma Makhlouf Shabou, Prof. Dept. Information Sciences, Geneva School of Business Administration HEG). For any questions or further information, please contact Prof. Dr. B. Makhlouf Shaboubasma (Principal researcher) (email: makhlouf-shabou@hesge.ch)  or Dr Elizabeth Lomas  (Co-investigator) (email: e.lomas@ucl.ac.uk).

 

E-Discovery and IG in 2017 and Beyond: The Recording of Our Online Discussion Now Available

We had a great online discussion this week with IGI Charter Supporter OpenText about trends in e-discovery and IG for 2017 and beyond. We also talked about the significance of their recent acquisition of Recommind and what it says about OpenText's product strategy and the market in general.

The video will be available here on our public site for a week, at which point it will move to the Resources section of our growing online community, where you can create a profile and interact with your IG peers. The slides from this online event will also be available there shortly.