Image by Eric P. Mandel, “View from DBR Skyview Conference Center, Chicago IL”
I flew to Chicago recently on a grand quest: to come face to face with the mythological creature known as the CIGO. I first heard of the CIGO in 2014, or maybe it was 2015. Having been fascinated with turning the idea of information governance into reality a few years earlier, I have long desired the opportunity to meet an actual CIGO in the wild. I figured my time had finally come, having secured an invitation to the 2018 CIGO Summit from my friends at the Information Governance Initiative (www.iginitiative.com).
This was the fourth annual event for the IGI, but it was the first I was able to attend. The attendees included corporate representatives covering various areas of the information governance spectrum, as well as several thought-leaders and a few generous sponsors.
The event started off with a low stress late afternoon plenary session, framed by plenty of time for networking – which I’m sure came as a relief to those who had been going nonstop for nearly three days at the preceding annual MER Conference. The afternoon session included a group exercise exploring the generic opportunities and threats (the second half of a SWOT analysis) for implementing or expanding a successful IG program over the next year. Of the several key threats identified by the group, the lack of authority / executive sponsorship appeared to be functionally endemic — and was the subject of further discussion on Day 2 (as addressed below). On the other side of the coin, the opportunities for IG identified by the group were seemingly more plentiful and diverse, covering the spectrum of the overall benefits of information governance that we have discussed for years now, such as promoting collaboration and knowledge management throughout the enterprise. Additionally, it was well-noted by many that the eminent roll-out of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) was bringing long-wanted attention to push for information governance, in general, and an updated records and information management program in particular.
Day 2 kicked off with a decidedly different pace, moving quickly through the day with rapid fire 10 to 30 minute sessions covering a variety of topics touching on key elements of information governance. The morning sessions focused on leadership and innovation in a multi-disciplinary environment, with several excellent presentations. Of particular note were the presentations of two military officers: Russ Stalters, who was one of the leaders of the BP oil spill litigation response program and a former Naval aviator, and Chris Graves, who is the COO of Tritura and an active reserve Marine Colonel who has repeatedly been deployed into active war zones over the last 17 years.
My takeaway from the morning sessions was that for information governance to gain a foothold in today’s enterprise, we need leaders who can actively listen to understand the diverse interests of varying stakeholders, who can bring together and harmonize teams from different disciplines, and most importantly, those who can manage change.
The afternoon continued with the rapid fire program, with a focus on specific challenges and practical solutions for those faced with attempting to implement IG in larger enterprises. For me, one of the best presentations of the day was from Morgan King, Head of Records & Information Management at Shire. In addition to her official role in the company, Morgan serves as chair of the company’s Governance Council that includes representatives from all major facets of IG that exist across the enterprise. I was drawn to the story of how Shire has established and is growing a functioning IG program and leadership team that addresses the core purpose of having a CIGO, without actually having hired a CIGO. As Morgan explained, Shire’s Governance Council includes a Chair and Vice-Chair from leading stakeholders, as well as a steering committee that includes the other C-Level or functional leads. There are defined management boundaries and objectives, an established meeting cadence for the steering committee and council, along with standard defined deliverables to be submitted to the executive corporate leadership. While one could argue that a CIGO role would be the proverbial cherry on top of this program, Shire’s IG program can serve as a functioning model of IG maturity.
One common theme heard throughout the day was the oft repeated notion that legal, compliance and records tend to be considered the departments of “NO!” It seems to me that for information governance to be able to grow and develop within an enterprise, we must find a pathway to “Yes” that addresses the needs of the enterprise for the processing of information while still achieving acceptable governance. While one speaker suggested that we need to “break down silos that divide us,” it seems to me that we should instead reframe the point as instead looking to bridge the gaps between existing silos and establish integrated IG approaches that address the many facets of the enterprise that impact information governance.
While I did not succeed in finding an actual CIGO at the CIGO Summit, I walked away from the event better informed, and filled with new ideas (plus a 3rd place prize for their annual Play-Doh sculpture competition).