The following is an excerpt from the chapter “Relationships Matter,” in the life-changing book, Tomorrow’s Jobs Today, Wisdom and Career Advice from Thought Leaders in AI, Big Data, Blockchain, The Internet of Things, Privacy, and More available from John Hunt Publishing.
The innovative business minds that have shared their experience and advice in Tomorrow’s Jobs Today have also been instrumental in developing and refining best practices and approaches in their fields, including big data, enterprise content management, blockchain, AI, privacy, IoT, and more. They are our wise mentors and friends. In our careers, we’ve been lucky enough to work closely with many of them to achieve common goals. Enjoying and being enriched by professional relationships is above and beyond the greatest gift you can give your career. Relationship building is, has always been and will always be, the most seminal skill and strategy we should practice and master.
As working professionals in the Information Age, we must strive to recognize and even anticipate emerging trends. Seizing upon those opportunities is possible when we choose to partner with change agents who share our vision and can work with us to transform our enterprises. We must reach beyond our teams or spheres of influence and work closely with the legal, regulatory, and ethical communities that study, measure, and moderate the impact of our technology and products on our respective fields. We need to plan and develop ourselves with a deep respect for the world that our products and services impact.
Consider the demonstrable catastrophic effects of a data breach or ransomware attack. That immediate threat is why the relationships between stakeholders on a team must remain candid, respectful, and informed. An impulsive decision or misdirected motive can end up exposing a vulnerability in the system or much worse. What makes a successful information governance team or program? You can have a solid roadmap and the best tools, but it’s all dead in the water unless you have good relationships that bond your team.
Hail to the Chieftains
The analogy of corporate teamwork to that of professional sports is worthy of application in the context of information governance. In 1952, the little known but highly accomplished Seattle Chieftains college basketball team exemplified teamwork during an era of tremendous social change.
It’s a shame that the fabled sportswriter Mickey Gordon isn’t around anymore to share his first-hand accounts of those players because he tells the story better than we ever could. But the gist is that people growing up back then felt the Chieftains represented the very best of America, and in some ways, the best of a country still stuck under the thumb of Jim Crow. The Seattle Chieftains were an unlikely band of brothers who defended each other on the paint and the road of life.
The secret was in their diversity. In the 1950’s it was quite a big deal to have Catholics, Jews, Blacks and Caucasians all on the same team. Despite a poorly funded program and incredible competition, thanks to the relationships they developed with one another, the Chieftains made it to both the NCAA and the National Invitational Tournaments. Those successes may be a lifetime ago, but they’re certainly not ancient history. The obstacles and challenges we all face as individuals and teams may be a little different now, but the best solutions remain very much like they were in 1952, baked in the perfect balance between individuality and unity. If we can see past the colors on our faces, we always find that we’re still wearing the same jerseys.
That was the formula behind the Seattle Chieftains and the ingredients for effective information governance programs. It’s about harnessing the power of working relationships in the Information Age. Staying in the position, but seeing past the material qualities of the individual gets you the right expertise and ultimately to the goal line.
Sourcing the knowledge, experience, and talent from each team member makes you virtually unstoppable. Highly successful sports teams like the Chieftains have proven, coordinating talent into a coherent, productive, sustainable strategy is the best way to win, and win consistently.
A new way to set the table
At Compliance and Privacy Partners, we work with highly regulated, US-based companies that have lots of talented folks. They’re subject to many laws from HIPAA to the CCPA to a multitude of tricky financial rules. However, our solutions are only as effective as the commitment of our client’s stakeholders to their own efficiency and compliance goals. Successful digital and information governance transformations require capital investment and executive sponsorship, but above all, a culture that values relationships. Directives may come from the top, but as they cascade down through the organization, it’s the relationships between managers that ultimately determine whether the direction is ultimately successful.
No matter where our position sits in the organization, we can always find opportunities to benefit both ourselves and our teams. Today’s leaders understand that to make a difference in an increasingly crowded field they’ll need to:
Strong leaders in the Information Age know how to build and encourage the right types of relationships for themselves and among their peers. We plant seeds, create synergy, and remember to nurture tomorrow’s talent. It’s one way of reminding ourselves that nobody is an island, and the ocean around us remains a boundless sea of opportunity.