Seeking information warriors.
AUTHOR: Randolph A. Kahn and Barclay T. Blair
PUBLISHER: Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM International)
PUBLICATION DATE: 2005
LENGTH: xxi, 248 pages
PRICE: $30 U.S.
News broadcasts increasingly feature chief executive officers (CEOs) and chief financial officers (CFOs) doing the convict walk from courtroom to prison in handcuffs. These melodramas always manage to capture the attention of legislators, regulators, and the public. The legislative response to these high profile convictions has been to pass statutes authorizing more stringent regulations and rules regarding information management and accountability such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
While corporate scoundrels and boardroom charlatans are carted off to prisons for richly deserved prison sentences, it is likely now that newly passed federal requirements enacted to curb business corruption may have a negative impact upon honestly run corporations. Businesses and corporations manifesting no malfeasance at all may come to ruin from careless documentation and noncompliant information and record-retention practices. As satisfying as it may be to watch the likes of Bernie Ebbers and Dennis Kozlowski hauled off to prison in shackles for their greedy corporate dealings, it is ignorance of or disregard for information management rules, regulations, and statutes that present the greatest risk to most business enterprises.
The increasingly necessary implementation of information management compliance (IMC) is the focus of authors and consultants such as, Randolph Kahn, Esq. and Barclay Blair. Kahn and Blair are considered information management pioneers for having systemized and unified the body of management and legal issues that make up IMC. Kahn and Blair's 2004 book, Information Nation: Seven Keys to Information Management Compliance, served as a general introduction to IMC, and while it is helpful, it's not essential in comprehending and absorbing the arguments and recommendations put forth in Kahn and Blair's second book regarding IMC, Information Nation Warrior: Information Management Compliance Boot-Camp.
The purpose of their latest monograph is to assist corporate middle-managers in their quest to become indispensable protectors of their companies from risky and expensive information mismanagement. Kahn and Blair refer to the employee who wants to build a career or gain influence within a corporation through mastery of IMC as an "information warrior." It is such an informed employee who might make all the difference in steering his or her company away from a crippling disaster affecting its employees and investors. Information warriors may include information technology (IT) administrators, finance officers, legal counsel, sales managers, or records managers. The information warrior, as defined by Kahn and Blair, must seek as many of the following responsibilities as possible to be effective and competent: understand and control IT, establish positive relationships between IT and those responsible for policy formulation, apply best practices and standards to information management and documentation practices, be a critical voice in automation purchasing decisions, and be prepared to recognize and solve problems.
Kahn and Blair's contention is that an information warrior must have sound knowledge and competencies in at least four areas: information technology, law, business, and records and information management (RIM). The authors use a cleverly engineered pedagogical structure to clarify, and organize these essential and complementary fields of expertise--the quadrant. The book is structured so that the information warrior who is competent in one or more of the four fields can opt to simply skim or review the chapters keyed to the relevant quadrant(s) and move on to study with care and diligence the chapters under the other quadrant(s) as they see fit. Information Nation Warrior is a well written and fast-paced book with short and well-defined chapters. Each of the four areas is represented by eight succinct and crisp chapters.
The chapters offer an easy-to-follow structure that assists readers in understanding complex concepts. The first three chapters prepare the reader to effectively use the book. The first chapter defines the issues and events that have made IMC a mandatory part of modern business management. The second chapter defines and instructs the reader in how the book's quadrant structure can be used to maximize their time and comprehension. Chapter three, the last preliminary chapter, consists of a three-page self-test on IMC fundamentals and applications. The purpose of the third chapter is to help the reader assess his or her initial understanding of the four essential areas of knowledge represented by the four quadrants (information technology, law, business, and RIM). Most chapters within the book have self-test to measure the comprehension of ICM concepts, principles, and implementation strategies after the reader has completed the chapter. Brief and relevant case studies and check lists are well represented throughout the book. These extra features are placed in shaded sidebars and boxes to complement the flow of the clear and direct text.
Kahn and Barclay's book is well researched and footnoted and also includes as an appendix an industry resource guide, which might prove useful. These resources consist of lengthy descriptions of services and products available to the information warriors from a variety of consultants, publishers, vendors, and professional associations.
There are a few reservations about the volume, but these are relatively minor compared to the important contributions it makes to the limited literature available regarding compliance and its impact on RIM. It is disturbing that Kahn and Blair don't address trends or suggest promising approaches to the inherent difficulties in the preservation and the long-term retention of electronic records as mandated by the new laws. This failure to offer advice or point toward trends also affects the archival "information warrior" in coping with archival responsibilities for electronic records. Similarly, the book's authors prematurely declared the death of traditional records management by ignoring the new compliance requirements as they relate to paper documentation. While many business and corporate records are created or captured and stored in electronic form, paper remains the most widely used information storage media today. Predicting a solely electronic future is not very helpful in dealing with the current mixed paper and electronic media environments that all RIM professionals face. The next book on IMC from Kahn and Blair should include helpful and substantive advice regarding long-term and perpetual retention and preservation of electronic records.
Despite these criticisms, Information Nation Warrior is certainly worth purchasing and mastering for all RIM professionals. The book should be mandatory reading for RIM professionals in organizations, businesses, and institutions. Information Nation Warrior is by far the best work currently in print regarding implementing and applying IMC principles.
Michael E. Holland, CA, is the Director of the University Archives for the University of Missouri-Columbia and Head of The Special Collections, Archives, Rare Books & Digital Initiatives Division of the MU Libraries. In 2005-2006 he serves as the President of the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA). He may be contacted at email@example.com.
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|Title Annotation:||Information Nation Warrior: Information Management Compliance Boot Camp|
|Author:||Holland, Michael E.|
|Publication:||Information Management Journal|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2005|
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