05 July 2009

Daily Value

For those of us trying to whip a Records & Information Management program into shape every day, we may view records as objects, challenges, obstacles, risks, clutter, detriti or worse. It’s hard to stay objective about records’ real importance and value.

But sooner or later, reality or exigency enters our lives, and we re-connect with the real value of the “stuff” we manage daily. (I wonder if jewelers lose their appreciation for the beauty and clarity of their stones? Do art dealers start thinking of a masterpiece as “that canvas in the antique frame”?)

I travel outside the USA irregularly enough that, when an international trip approaches, I always have to pause to muse, “Where’s my passport? Is it up to date?” This isn’t usually a critical issue. However, when my college-age daughter was bussing around Scotland on her own, with no determined touch-points, I wanted to be able fly there immediately on Fatherly Airlines should trouble beset her. She returned, hale and hearty, but if she had needed me, I didn’t want to have to search for my passport.

Birth certificates, property deeds, proofs of insurance, receipts, certificates of deposit: these are all records with real personal impact for most of us. Professionally, the records we manage may be as insignificant as the number of ants in an anthill, but frequently the records are vital to somebody – some faceless anybody who depends on the effectiveness of our programs for health or fairness or justice.

In recent months I have had conversations with fine records people at Medtronic, St. Jude Medical, and Boston Scientific, three firms that make implantable medical devices. People’s lives depend on the consistent effectiveness of those companies’ products. Imagine the calamity when, say, a cardiac pacemaker is recalled because a weakness has come to light. Are the records of the recipients of the particular model in question 100 percent accurate? Are they 100 percent retrievable in a readable format? They better be because lives are at stake.

Clearly RIM controls, with regular audits, help us bring our programs’ error rates down close to zero. But there is a human factor here too. As leaders, we can not afford to get jaded about the value of what we do. We can impress upon our staffers that our work is vital, whether a record series is or is not.

But there is always that complacency issue, the boredom, the routine, that is our enemy. That risk is always with us. Our challenge is to continually strive, to battle to find ways to stay fresh, to recognize that each record is important to someone.

And when I figure that one out, I’ll turn my attention to the quest to make love last over decades.

-- Gordy Hoke


  1. I think when records managers need help staying fresh and remembering the importance of their work, all they need to do is read this blog!

  2. I like the way of expressing the need and use of record and information management in daily life.I agree with statement given related to the boredom with records.Records are very important for the person who has many documents to maintain properly.