3 Timeless Business Lessons from a Real Life Superwoman

Eleanor Moscatel in Superman

The Adventures of Superman (upper right, Eleanor Moscatel)

My Mother is 86 and doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile. But if she ever did, her headline would read something like… “Former ingenue, entrepreneur, dreamer, and the rest is none of your damn business, honey.” But to those who’ve had the privilege to know her over the decades her mantra has always been, quite simply, to treat everybody with dignity!

Here are 3 timeless business lessons she’s taught me to go along with that mantra.

3. The worst “they” can say is “no.” – Opportunities were not exactly flowing in depression-era Los Angeles, but that didn’t stop one young lady from putting herself out there. She helped my father through chiropractic school by working long hours as a Hollywood extra throughout the 50’s and 60’s. Though never quite achieving stardom she knocked on enough doors to get a lot of work, save some seed money and establish relationships that would eventually transform her life. Mom leveraged her new, tough shell to find opportunities, sell her strengths and laugh off rejection.  “It’s no big deal,” she constantly told me as a kid. At the end of the day you should never be afraid to ask for what you want because the absolute worst “they” can say is no. And you still get to keep your dignity.

2. Get everything in writing. – Unurprisingly, Mom had to learn this lesson like most of us… the hard way. This was the mid-century after all and commonplace to make agreements on a handshake. But it only took a few rotten deals for her to realize that keeping good records was key to helping a business stay on track and prospering. Putting it in writing lets the other person know that you need to be, and you will be, treated with dignity.

1. Don’t burn your bridges. – The keyword in the old adage that you can’t make a lot of money without making a few enemies is few. Just as one door opens and another closes, Mom never wanted to find herself in a new room with an old enemy. By treating everybody with dignity she managed to avoid burning many bridges. And for every bridge she burned, she’s probably built a thousand more. When a job or a deal doesn’t go your way, take the high road and don’t make it personal. You never know what the future brings or who might be bringing it.

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Mom’s success, not just in business, but among the people she calls colleagues, friends and family is based on dignity. And while there were many times in her life where she was unfairly treated, put at a disadvantage and rejected, she never forgot that. I guess that’s why I never had much of a problem following the 5th Commandment. Anybody remember that one?

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Directing The Flow Of Information – Interview with Jones Lukose of The International Criminal Court

Second in a series of interviews with leaders in the fields of Risk, Compliance and Information Governance across the globe.

Jones LukoseJones Lukose, MBA, PhD is the Information Management Officer for the Criminal Court in the Hague and has over twenty years of experience developing and implementing strategies to achieve operational effectiveness and regulatory compliance for engineering firms, in energy and utilities sectors as well as for international and judicial organizations in Africa, Europe and the Americas. I interviewed him this past February to learn more about his unique insights into information management fundamentals and our future.

Jones, your work and research has taken you to many corners of the world including Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Jamaica, Uganda, the UK and now the Netherlands. It’s there you presently direct an important Information Governance program for the International Criminal Court. What do you consider the most common theme in the information management challenges you’ve faced across so many unique cultures and how has that experience shaped how you think about solutions for international organizations?

I have worked in organisations where data is everywhere but the common challenge has been that it seems no one is directing its flow. There is a lot of evidence of information collected and stored that does not fit with the organisation’s strategy. The organisation may say that it is going in a particular direction but the data it holds does not provide the required evidence or proof.  My experience in this regard has led me to reconsider my role in the organisation as an Information Manager. In such environments, it is my first priority to help determine the real purpose and value of data to the organisation. In other words lend a hand in crafting the strategy of the organisation by leveraging information management.

How can we, as information management practitioners, as data stewards, effectuate best practices in our workplace in the face of constant, sometimes paradigm shifting changes in technology?

We now live in a world where small sets of information can alter the economies of the most powerful organisation and states on the planet. It is a world, where small streams of sensitive information can digitally leak and cause violent reactions from people living far and beyond the source. Tiny words or images transported via exotic technology can lead to wide-spread panic across whole populations even wars. A world where information is fragmented infinitely raising an infinite number of world views and identities. It is a world where the same information is interpreted differently in space and time. It is a world where information is presented in constant flux with the only constant being surprise.

Whatever your personal convictions, I challenge you to consider that we need a new way of looking at information management. It won’t help to retreat to our old maps and models because the more frustrated we become. We need new information management techniques to navigate the chaos, filter the wrong and point us to the significant. The new information manager will thrive and even love to embrace the chaos of information by applying new lenses and insights. He or she should be ready to be inspired to experiment and try out new ideas and solutions.

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The Paperless Office

By Rafael Moscatel

The extent to which any organization can reduce its dependency on paper is largely determined by laws and the industry regulations it faces, the technology available to it and how well its leaders manage change, internally as well as for customers.

Here are some thoughts on how to begin solving the paper problem around your office:

Understand the affordances of paper  One of the most thorough examinations of the issue of paper and its role in our lives and workplaces came in 2002 when MIT press published The Myth of the Paperless Office.  The book’s findings make a case for the “affordances of paper” and stress that to reduce paper production and consumption we must understand the underlying habits and processes driving how our clients and colleagues work.

Attorneys for example often require a contextual or “case at a glance” perspective that a chronological or issue focused file offers… a “story telling” approach to presenting information which can’t always be matched even with the best software. Similarly, auditors or project managers will often work with and create aggregated records which serve a specific purpose for which imaging might be overkill or too costly. And contrary to popular belief, there still exist quite a few scenarios where it remains more affordable, practical and efficient to even store information in paper form. Conversion costs and risks required to maintain the digital lifecycle of infrequently referenced documents and avoid bitrot* can often exceed those associated with retaining the same materials in paper form.

Make the right policy changes with executive level support  Every Records or Information Governance policy initiative or project your business undertakes should have senior level executive support and reflect the best practices within your industry.

Here are some policy and procedural ideas to consider that can act as catalysts for change.

  • Get a Retention Policy / Schedule, implement it and regularly enforce it -A Retention Schedule (often in line with a data map) is the most effective tool for properly managing records and information and its necessity cannot be understated.  It not only protects an organization and keeps paper and electronic storage costs low, it gives executives a tool for understanding and navigating the massive network of silos and records their businesses create.
  • Institute an E-signature Policy for all contracts under a specified financial threshold
  • De-duplicate emails and all other electronic content repositories systematically
  • Identify where duplicates are created, determine why and what can be done to prevent them going forward
  • Take a “final draft and / or executed version” approach to your document lifecycle rules Continue reading