What Does Culture Have to Do with Information Management? …Everything!

ThumbsUpCultureLater this week my latest article for Document Strategy magazine will be published with same title as this post.

We have all heard some of these IT project failure statistics.

  • One in six IT projects have an average cost overrun of 200% and a schedule overrun of 70%. Source: Why Your IT Project May Be Riskier Than You Think, Bent Flyvbjerg; Alexander Budzier, Harvard Business Review, September 2011.
  • 33% of projects fail because of a lack of involvement from senior management. Source: University of Ottawa.
  • The United States economy loses $50-$150 billion per year due to failed IT projects. Source: The Cost of Bad Project Management by Benoit Hardy-Vallee, Gallup Business Journal, February 7, 2012

When we think of rolling out Information Management solutions, what is the single biggest risk factor for success of the project? The adoption of the new solution by the people! Why is this? Because, in most cases we are asking people to change their behavior. We are asking them to use a new application or change the way they create, save, and find information because of this new solution/application. We are also asking them to change their relationship with information. For some, this is a big change. They are being asked to “share” the information in the new application repository when they are so used to just saving everything to their hard drive.

What do we do to help ensure success?

My article will address this challenge and offer actionable steps to address this challenge. Stay tuned!


Steal The Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

Steal the show written by Michael Port is a must have book for anyone who wants to effectively influence others. It is especially helpful, proving actionable strategies, for speaking in front of an audience, your peers, or other groups. I loved the “seven steps to successful rehearsals that produce great performances.”

If you have a high stakes performance (speech, presentation, job interview, or high stakes discussion with a spouse or child) why would you attempt it without rehearsing? This is a must read for everyone.

unlocking data to solve real world business challenges

Yesterday, I had the privilege to speak at the Olin College of Engineering at the Olin Innovation Lab hosted by the Olin CIO Joanne Kossuth.

OIL-March2016My keynote was titled “unlocking data to solve real world business challenges”. Think about it. The very data you need to solve a problem may be hidden away. Hidden, because that data can be located inside documents, images, videos, emails, or even inside a database. And what about file shares.

I shared some of the lessons I learned over the last 5 1/2 years leading the team at BP managing the information and data from the Gulf Oil Spill.

One example was the data locked away inside invoices for the spend responding to the spill. Some of the invoices were over 1000 pages. So, how do you unlock this data? We used intelligent optical character recognition to extract the data from the invoice. Then we imported that data into a database and linked that data to the invoice. Now invoice line item data within the invoice was available for queries and search. When the data of interest is found the analyst could click on the data result and view the original invoice information.

I will be sharing other examples of unlocking data over the next few posts. Eventually I will make my keynote available here on this site.

Question: What are some other examples of hidden data that you can think of? Leave a comment below.

I will be participating on the panel “Big Data: Real-World Challenges, Insight and Business Value” along with Panelists: Carl Jaekel, Med Mutual; Declan Moss, Navistar Inc.; Brett Collins, Navistar Inc. and will be moderated by Lane Severson, Doculabs.

Date: May 10, 2016
Time: 11:00 AM
Event: 2016 DOCUMENT Strategy Forum Conference (DSF ’16)
Topic: Big Data: Real-World Challenges, Insight and Business Value
Sponsor: Event Evolution
Venue: Hyatt Regency O’Hare
Location: 9300 Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, Illinois 60018
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Russ Stalters Writing For DOCUMENT Strategy Media Again

Winter 2015 Document Strategy

Several years ago I was a contributing columnist for DOCUMENT  Strategy Media. I am happy to announce that I will be writing a monthly column once again. Back when I was writing at BetterECM I wrote some articles for DOCUMENT Strategy.

Once my first article, “Legaltech 2016: A Report from The Conference”, is available I will send out a post with the link to the article. I want to thank Allison Lloyd, editor of DOCUMENT Strategy Media, for the opportunity to come back as a columnist.

I am excited to speak at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, 13th Olin Innovation Lab.

Date: March 22, 2016
Event: Olin Innovation Lab
Sponsor: Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
Venue: Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
Location: 1000 Olin Way
Needham, MA 02492
United States
Public: Private


I am excited to be speaking on Information Management: The Technology Doesn’t Matter at the AIIM 2016 Conference in New Orleans. I will be sharing a proven plan to make your information management implementations successful regardless of the technology you use.

Date: April 26, 2016—April 28, 2016
Event: The AIIM Conference 2016
Sponsor: AIIM.org
Venue: Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Location: 601 Loyola Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70113
United States
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

Time to Retire the Term ECM???

It’s been at least 16 years since the term ECM (Enterprise Content Management) was coined. According to Wikipedia the Association of Image and Information Management Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM.org) defined ECM in 2000. Not sure if AIIM was really the original author but does it really matter? What does this term, ECM really mean?Time to retire?

The current AIIM definition of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes.

There was a recent post by Marko Sillanpää at Big Men on Content titled “Enterprise Content Management too Vague”. In his post Marko states: “Vendor representatives need to make ECM technology easier to understand and not more confusing.  I always feel I’m in an odd place when I have to say to a customer, “yes it is like ___ but we call it ___.””


I can tell you that to a “line of business” executive or decision maker they have no idea what ECM means. It seems that after 16 years of vendors, consultants, and information practitioners trying to explain ECM the result is that most folks walk away confused or more confused.

Maybe it’s time for a change.

I suggest we retire ECM as a term and adopt something else that is more meaningful to “line of business” executives and to everyone else.

The world of content has been changing over the last several years. Now we have semi-structured documents along with the insights and business value locked away in databases and geospatial data which need the context provided by “unstructured” documents to realize those insights and business value. The solutions needed are no longer principally document management.

We need to use the language that our stakeholders and business decision makers understand and can relate to. So, what do we use instead of ECM???

I propose that we use the term “Information & Data Management”. In my previous role as Director, Information & Data Management for the BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization I used this term with the business leaders of the organization. And they got it. This term or phrase was easily understood and I did not have work through a long litany of descriptions like I would if I used the “ECM” term. Notice the title I chose. I was very intentional about choosing that title and also naming the program I created to manage the information and data from the Gulf Oil Spill.

So, what do you think? Is it time to ditch ECM as a term and embrace “Information & Data Management” to describe the people, processes, and technologies we use to effectively manage the information and data that organizations create, receive, and leverage for business value and advantage?

Let me know what you think. Let’s start a healthy debate.

Socks As a Leadership Tool….

John TeachingOver three years ago I decided to join John Maxwell Team (JMT). I joined mainly because I was looking for tools and materials to use in developing some of the up-and-coming leaders in the company who worked with me. Now, as a certified coach, speaker, and trainer I have access to John Maxwell’s materials along and join over 8000 other certified coaches from over 120 countries. I will write more about the Team later.

What I learned over the last three years through this experience is becoming certified and being mentored by John Maxwell himself was more about my development as a leader and seeing how to apply these leadership principles to getting information done. You see, without sound leadership and support from the top of the organization on down implementing an effective information and data management program will fail.

One great aspects of the JMT culture is that we like to have fun and don’t take ourselves too seriously. At the Live Training events with John you will see many team members and staff wearing very colorful and funny socks. Everyone has a lot of fun with this. Up until I joined the JMT I would never think of wearing these crazy and fun socks.

Last February 2013 was my first experience with this sock phenomenon during my certification at the Live Training. After I went home I thought, I will get some colorful socks to wear at the next Live Training event. It never crossed my mind to wear them every day at the office. So with a few pairs of new socks I did wear some while in Guatemala along with some of the other coaches. Then that August 2013 I brought my socks to Orlando for another session with John Maxwell and the other faculty and had some fun. I noticed that the new JMT members really enjoyed them and they relaxed as they laughed at the silly looking socks. We became connected.

Then one day I thought, why not try wearing a pair of my colorful socks to the office. Would people still take me seriously? As a result of joining the JMT along with many new experiences and growth I’ve had over the last year, I’ve become much more comfortable in my own skin. I decided try wearing a pair to work.

IMG_1178What I discovered was that these colorful and fun socks are an excellent leadership tool. Because of my position in the organization as a director leading over 100 folks, many people have been programmed to feel intimidated by someone in a position of leadership. I need to connect with them and make sure they can honestly share what is working, what is not, and what they think would be even better for our team. Maybe socks are the answer! I started wearing my colorful socks to the office and started to get folks to notice them. What I discovered was a powerful leadership tool.

So now I wear them every day and when I approach a team member, I ask them what day it is. Is it Monday, Hump Day eve, Hump Day, Friday Eve, or Friday? Then I show them the socks I have on for the day to celebrate that day. When I tell them I am celebrating that day something magical happens. They laugh, they make fun of my socks, I laugh at myself and all of a sudden I am a team mate not the “Boss”. I am finding that after I break the tension with this simple leadership tool I am having deeper and more meaningful conversations with these normally reserved team members. Their perception is quickly changed and they open up to share their concerns, ideas, and dreams.

So, I challenge you to try using this powerful leadership tool to help you become a better, more approachable and fun leader. They are only socks. What do you have to lose?

Oh, if you want to learn more about the John Maxwell Team or you want to know where to get cool socks like mine, leave a comment below…

Content Analytics – Say What?

This week I will be participating in the AIIM Executive Leadership Council (ELC) and the topic is Content Analytics. From the AIIM website; “The AIIM Executive Leadership Council brings together top thinkers, high performance practitioners and leaders in information management to discuss, define, and direct the Future of Information Management.”

Wow, I might be a top thinker!

One of the first challenges is to agree on a definition of this somewhat ambiguous marketing term. Like so many other terms in the IT industry – it depends on who you ask.

So, in preparation for this thought provoking experience later this week, I put together my definition of Content Analytics.

Here are some definitions for Content Analytics I found:

From the AIIM Market Intelligence: Big Data and Content Analytics: Measuring the ROI white paper, 2013 survey”Content Analytics: A range of search and reporting technologies that can provide similar levels of business intelligence and strategic value across unstructured data to that conventionally associated with structured data reporting.

From Gartner, “Definition of Content Analytics; 15 April 2010”Content analytics is a family of technical capabilities that mine content by “asking questions” and “getting answers.” To find those answers, content analytics applications process all content types searching for matches to specified patterns.

According to the book from IBM: IBM Watson Content Analytics: Discovering Actionable Insight from Your Content, July 7, 2014″Content analytics enables businesses to gain insight and understanding from their structured and unstructured content (also referred to as textual data).

I think we need to have a definition which is a bit broader and more definitive.

And, the Getting Information Done definition:

Content Analyticsbreaking it down…

Content equals all content; structured, semi-structured, and unstructured. Examples include geospatial data, documents, emails, scanned paper (with OCR and/or ICR), databases, images, etc.

I define Analytics as: The ability to find patterns in information such as semantic models, text analytics, or graphical representations of data that provide new insights from large repositories of unstructured, semi-structured, and structured data that resides in multiple sources such as file systems, databases, data-streams, via APIs, other platforms, and applications. Typically the vendors and for that matter the analysts focus on tools and technologies when discussing or evaluating Content-Analytics. I maintain that this is short sighted and that for an organization to get the benefit from CA they will need to address people, process, and technology.

Let me know what you think.