Monday, July 16, 2007

The Invisible Profession?

This isn't quite like the license plate game in the car, but the next time that you're commuting to work, take a look out the window and look for signs of the records management profession.

Records centers, records center trucks, shredding trucks, data protection facility vehicles, etc.

You might be surprised at what you see.

I was thinking about this the other morning. On my typical commute of about 45 minutes (suburb to suburb in the Chicago area), I drive past at least one marked commercial records center and usually see a variety of vehicles from names in the industry. If I drive to work a different way -- or head to the airport, I'll pass another commercial records center. If I drive downtown, I see yet another one on each of my alternate routes into the city.

Stand on a corner in a downtown area some morning. See how long it takes before you see a vehicle from a commercial records center. I go into the city about every six weeks for a haircut (probably fodder for another blog entry). I can virtually guarantee that I will see a commercial records center truck during the few minutes while I walk from the train station to where I get my haircut.

And yet, who really understands what we do? How many times have you been asked by someone to explain what you do, then asked to explain it again?

I'm looking forward to ARMA's published Competencies document later this month. I'm further hopeful that records managers will be recognized by the US government with a Standard Occupational Classification. The Competencies will better define our roles in a standard manner. The SOC will embed the roles within the standard manner in which the US Government defines jobs and enable more accuracy for salary studies and general recognition.

I'd suggest that we're really not that invisible, just not that recognized.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

My ten year old daughter is in love with Ty Pennington. Ty is the host of EM:HE. If you haven't seen the show, it is on ABC almost every Sunday night. The premise is that people write in suggesting that either they or a deserving family get a makeover for their home (this usually involves demolishing the existing home and building a new showcase. In most instances, the family has been through some extremely tough times and many of the stories have been known to evoke a tear from me.

Anyway, the 10 year old is in love. She desperately wants Ty to come to our house and make it over. She likes the man's work.

EM:HE is a show that I do take time out to watch with my daughter. Nobody else controls the remote when Ty is on... so we're sitting in front of the TV a while ago and my daughter expresses her sincere desire to get Ty over to our house for some demo work. I point out to her that Ty and his crew tend to show up at your house when life really has sucker punched a family. You get that shiny new room when your old house has burned down or somebody has a horrible affliction or when the breadwinner is dead. I suggested that we probably didn't want a situation at home where we needed the services of Ty and crew. She pondered that for a while and I could see the light bulb come on. I guess she had never really paid attention to the stories behind the new house. She was thinking that it was really cool to get a new house in one week -- and never really saw the backstory.

I still like the show. It is a really nice thing to see a family who is really been through a ringer get a new start. I can't begin to imagine how the staffers at ABC ever pick out the right stories. They have to have thousands of applications -- most with horrible stories to tell -- and then they have to sort out the scam artists from the people who legitimately need the help of the show. But it is truly a lottery. There must be millions of people who legitimately could benefit from a home makeover, yet only 25 families a year get featured on EM:HE. If you think about it, these families have typically won two lotteries: they've won an awful lottery of hardship or pain; then they have won a very very positive lottery by getting a new home and a new start. And Ty seems like a pretty nice guy.

Monday, July 9, 2007

After establishing this blog a while ago, I'm now just getting around to doing some writing.

I'm waiting out some severe weather from the comfort of my office and thought that I'd do a little writing while the storms and traffic die down.

Air Travel
Tomorrow I get on an airplane for the first time in almost two months. I've been having withdrawals. I hope I remember how it all works. I'm very glad that I'm on the 6am flight tomorrow, rather than the 6pm flight this evening. I'm going to NYC, and with a very full plane, I hope that we actually leave in the morning. Should be interesting.

I watched Boeing roll out the 787 Dreamliner yesterday on DISH Network. As some of you know, I'm something of a geek about airplanes (among many other things). I had forgotten about the roll out and was reading an article in the Chicago Tribune that linked me to the home page for the Dreamliner. On that page, they had streaming video of the roll out, but also links to various places where you could watch the program via satellite. DISH was one of those locations, so like the good geek that I am, I sat and watched all the corporate self-promotion for an hour until they wheeled up the completed shell of the first 787 (it was interesting that in one shot, the camera showed the cockpit and you could clearly see the windows in the passenger cabin). Some day, I hope to ride in one of those, but it looks like it will be on an airline other than United.

From time to time, I'll write about my adventures in the air. To read some things I've written in the past, take a look at FlyerTalk and view my profile. There are links to my posts in there if you're of a mind to wander through a lot of stuff.

Changing Jobs
I recently moved from Hewitt Associates to Motorola. It's kind of nice to work for a company that almost everyone instantly recognizes by name. My role here is Director of Records Management. I'm picking up and moving forward a relatively new records program, but one that has a great foundation of policy, global retention schedules, and a compliance certification program. More on Motorola in future posts.

Records Management
So the day (and sometimes night) job is records management. I spend a lot of time thinking about records and writing about records. And I don't mean the kind that spin on a turntable. A lot of my musings here will likely be on this topic. I've been writing informally on records management since 1993, mainly on the RECMGMT-L Listserv. I've also written two formal articles on topics on records management:

"IM: Invaluable New Business Tool or Records Management Nightmare?"
"Are Cookies Hazardous to Your Privacy?"

I'm a past Board member of ARMA International and the current Treasurer of the Association. from time to time, I may write about broad issues in the industry that the Board is trying to better understand and discern. I may also write some more focused pieces that relate to matters at hand.

Other Items
If I am so moved, I may write about other things. I have a couple in mind already -- ramblings and noodlings that I'd like to work through in print -- and yes, in front of whatever audience I may gather. I have very strong opinions on the state of government and politics in this country and I also have some strong opinions on religion. We'll see if I have the nerve to post that stuff.

So welcome to my blog and I'll do my best to keep things fresh and worth your investment of your time.