Directing The Flow Of Information – An 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 its 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.

Perhaps the information manager of today needs to invest in uncommon skills such as engineering, mathematics, statistics, physics and chemistry to remain relevant. But it is now very possible to visualize the behavior of information management teams and predict their performance using tools that align the required core values to information management practice. An examination of the way employees handle information flowing in the organisation reveals how core values such as respect, transparency, accountability, integrity, innovation etc. are embraced, shared and lived. A value based approach is therefore very effective in establishing positive information management practices in organisations today that can endure the test of time.

In your roles as both a consultant and practitioner your focus has been primarily on guiding entities that serve the public, whether it’s energy, utilities or justice. Is it difficult to balance the need for transparency with the internal privacy, operational and data security demands of the organization? How do you prioritize such competing factors?

We typically think of information governance as a description of who does what with information and who reports to whom. Information Governance however, is much more than a formal system of internal tasks and reporting relationships; something that shows up on intranet sites and bulletin boards. IM Leaders understand that IM governance schemes must be carefully matched to the organization’s purpose and environment. Good IM governance also creates the links between authority, responsibility, accountability and organisational data/information. IM governance influences behaviour and helps shape an organization’s culture over time, much like a skeleton gives shape to the body and allows stability in motion. This dimension guides the IM practitioner in understanding how to judiciously use information as an enabler of change, but more importantly how it can be aligned appropriately to nurture effective behaviour and reporting relationships.

I seek principles and use them as values that transcend technology, methodologies and techniques. Without principles, valuable information is mishandled, individuals lose their way and organizational anxiety ensues. This creates confusion, conflicts, paralysis, and cannibalization of energy. As part of leadership I set clear principles and manage these proactively rather than in damage control when a crisis occurs. I am mindful of information handled within the organization and inspire other staff through my own behaviour.

Sometime priorities are not arrived at rationally but via experience and intuition. In the modern approach, the information manager needs to assume that in complex systems prediction and prioritisation is impossible; the information manager accepts greater indeterminacy and ambiguity. In light of this, the modern information manager needs to rely greatly on intuitive feel for situations, and trusts in the character, creativity, and abilities that they and others bring to the profession. It is essentially a “dance” but created by “jazz artists” that intuitively trust in each other’s abilities and skills to produce something of higher value than the sum of their individual abilities.

The International Criminal Court has a fantastic public facing portal where court documents are indexed, redacted and made available to the public once authorized by the court. I can only imagine that the responsive documents, evidence and court created documentation in these historic cases is voluminous, especially considering document retention requirements. How has providing this robust tool for both keyword search, metadata and contextual filtering improved people’s interaction with and perception of the court and how much do you think the tool has helped raise awareness about it’s critical mission?

Continue reading