Governance is Always Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

There’s a disturbing trend in the information governance profession that needs to stop now, namely the tendency to apologize for the work we’re doing.

“Let me email that document to you.”
– “I’m sorry, but please paste in the link to the digital document instead.”

“I need to make a copy of this for my files.”
– “I’m sorry, but please use the image in the electronic file store as your convenience copy.”

“I’m taking this record from the folder for a while.”
– “I’m sorry, but please check it out from the records repository so we know who’s using it.”

What are we apologizing for? The need to alter people’s thinking and habits so our information can be treated as the asset that it is? Bah. Just stop it. Stop it now.

I understand that you’re trying to be low-key about your governance program so as not to engender any undue resistance. But your hard-core resisters are going to resist regardless of what you say or do, so you may as well quit apologizing and just get on with it.

So instead, try something like this: “I know that’s how we used to do it, but now we’re doing it this way.”

It’s still soft, but it makes clear that there’s a non-optional new way of doing things. And the use of the word “we” indicates that “we’re all in this together” and aren’t singling out anyone in particular.

Wooing people to the governance cause is never easy, can take a considerable amount of time, and inevitably reveals some who will never “get it.” To those people – my opening stance notwithstanding – I believe it’s OK to say “I’m sorry” … as in, “I’m sorry, but you don’t work here anymore.” Even if you’re not sorry at all.

What do you say to folks who need reinforcement and redirection? We, and your peers and colleagues, want to know!

About the author: Steve Weissman

Steve Weissman helps you do information right by bringing order and discipline to your governance and process practices. Principal Consultant at Holly Group and Co-Founder of the Information Coalition (now merged with ARMA International), he leverages a proven proprietary methodology to optimize everything from strategic planning and needs assessment to vendor selection and user adoption. He is, in short, The Info Gov Guy™, furthering best-practices for finding, leveraging, and protecting your business-critical information. A member of the AIIM Company of Fellows and holder of numerous industry designations, he can be reached at or 617-383-4655.

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