Looking to Implement Information Governance within Your Organization? Take Small Bites: Information Governance Best Practices

I love a great analogy!  Hungry to implement information governance within your organization?  That’s fine.  But, as this recent article illustrates, information governance is (for lack of a better way of putting it) a BIG meal!  Better take small bites.

In this recent IG Guru article (Information Governance: Take Small Bites to Avoid Choking, written by Matt Mahon of Ricoh USA), the author notes that Confucius (as he came to be known in the western world), is reputed to have said, “a man can eat an elephant if need be – one bite at a time.”  This is why, the repeated calls for a top-down approach that seeks to address information governance holistically – encompassing all conceivable stakeholders (and who is not an information stakeholder?) – while well intentioned, may be too much for any organization to digest. Burp!

While information governance requires C-Suite focus, it cuts across every business domain such as marketing, sales, legal and compliance, IT, InfoSec, privacy, human resources, finance and accounting, business strategy and planning, and so on. Each effect, and is affected by, the other: especially when it concerns the storage, processing, use, sharing, and archiving of electronic data. Is that too much for a top-down one-bite approach?


Perhaps.  At least Mahon thinks so.  As he notes, each aspect of governing information as defined by Gartner is definitionally a function of the individual business domain’s roles and responsibilities. And they differ greatly. Each business unit has unique requirements. So, while information governance comprehends the synergies (the systemic values and risks associated with information governance or lack thereof) there are also tensions.

If you consider the need to aggregate data from across domains for workplace analytics or for targeting consumers against data privacy requirements and legal constraints that govern their use, each domain must take their own bite of the InfoGov elephant. Each has its own unique challenges, constraints, and possible solutions. Its own values and risks that require specificity of subject matter expertise to maximize those values and mitigate the risks. According to Mahon, “approaching information governance as independent discipline-specific workstreams is the logical approach.”

Some of you may say “tusk, tusk” – er, “tsk, tsk” – but Mahon follows that by saying “each bite of the information governance elephant – each workstream contemplated – must be cognizant of the other to be strategically relevant and achieve sustainable results. Multiple independent workstreams, driven by roles, responsibilities, and the expertise necessary to comprehend them are required. But they cannot operate in a vacuum.”

In other words, you need quick wins while keeping the overall goal in mind when you’re trying to implement information governance within your organization.  It’s important to keep the individual workstreams progressing to that overall goal.  But it’s important to manage them effectively, so that the whole program comes together at the end.  It’s not just project management, it’s program management to keep the individual projects fed (i.e., moving forward).


As Mahon concludes “one can eat an elephant if need be, but why?”  Why indeed?  Take your time when it comes to your efforts to implement information governance within your organization.  For more on the article, click here.

FWIW, I’m personally opposed to eating elephants.  And don’t get me started on how many ways there are to skin a cat! Yeesh! 😉

So, what do you think?  Has your organization attempted to implement information governance?  If so, how did it go?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclosure: Ricoh USA is an Educational Partner and sponsor of eDiscovery Today

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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