Without fundamental culture change, information management and quality initiatives will fail. Last month I described why you do NOT need management commitment for an effective information quality or information management initiative. With any endeavor that is a business transformation or culture change initiative, you must have more than management "buy-in." You must have active involvement and management transformation. To do this, you must have more than a business case for the initiative. You must educate management about their behaviors and accountabilities and enable them to institutionalize good information management and information quality processes that transcend personnel changes.

To accomplish true information resource management (IRM) objectives, you must lead management into the involvement necessary to make the initiative succeed. In this column, I will share tips for accomplishing this.

In Part 1, I gave the analogy that those of you implementing information quality improvement or enterprise information resource management (IRM) hold a trump card to gain management commitment and active involvement. With the right purpose and with effective implementation, IRM initiatives directly contribute to the accomplishment of long-term enterprise goals.

Following is a synopsis of the trump card process (see my May 2001 column for greater detail):

  • First, you must have a trump card.
  • Second, you have to be in the game.
  • Third, once you are in the game, you must understand the rules.
  • Fourth, knowing the rules, you must then have a strategy regarding when to play your trump card.
  • Fifth, once you have your strategy, you must take your turn.
  • Sixth, once your turn comes, you must play your trump card.
  • Finally, once you have played your trump card and won the pot, invest it wisely.

Recognize executive business management as key customers. No significant transforming change, such as information management, will get off the ground without the executives understanding its value and giving tentative approval. No fundamental change will be sustainable without key customer satisfaction. This means information management professionals must know who their customers are and what customers expect of the products and services provided. Point 1 of information quality, "Create constancy of purpose for quality of information product and service," means "the obligation to the knowledge worker never ceases."1 Executives are your key knowledge workers when it comes to sustainable support.

Learn to think like a business person. To understand management's expectations, you must think and behave like an effective manager. One of the most important lessons I learned occurred the first day of my programming career in 1973 with Sears when my manager, Mr. Wiebe, said to me, "I want you to think of yourself first as a Sears employee ­ and then as a computer professional." I have never forgotten those words. Is your first loyalty to the organization that pays your salary or to your profession?

Drive your personal and unit mission, vision, values and objectives directly from the enterprise mission. Every employee must (and every consultant and contractor should) know exactly how they contribute to the accomplishment of the enterprise mission. If they do not, they may solve the wrong problems, possibly putting the enterprise at risk. Rethink and revise your mission to align directly to your enterprise mission. Be able to articulate how what you do contributes to the accomplishment of the enterprise mission. Start every day by reviewing your enterprise mission first and then your personal mission. It will change your behavior. You will be more effective. If your up-line manager's mission seems out of sync with the enterprise mission, find a politically correct way to explore it with your manager, asking how it helps accomplish the goals of the enterprise.

Listen, listen, listen to those from whom you seek commitment and active support. Covey's fifth habit applies here. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."2 You cannot take your preconceived solution and try to mold the problem around it. You must truly understand the executives' problems. What keeps them awake at night? What gives them ulcers? If you are seeking commitment for an initiative that helps executives solve their problems, you will have their blessing.

Personal tip: Know that management has two sets of priorities: official enterprise priorities and personal priorities. Never underestimate the power of the personal goals, whether they be wealth (shareholder value), fame (professional and social prominence) or power (ego). Always consider this in your strategy and implementation. Ivory tower ideals must be tempered in an imperfect world.

What do you think? Let me know at Larry.English@infoimpact.com.

Next month's column will provide tips for obtaining management's commitment and active involvement.

1. English, L. P. Improving Data Warehouse and Busi-ness Information Quality. New York: Wiley & Sons.
2. Covey, S. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989.

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