…About Taking Better Notes
Another one of those Dan’s New Leaf Posts, meant to inspire thought about IT Governance . . . .
An interesting set of metaphors arose out of our efforts to improve our time management practices at infotex. In the spirit of sound strategic planning, we as a team decided our strategy of time management relied on a tactic called “note taking.” Meanwhile, many of us also had a personal strategic goal of “better listening.” It’s one of those basics that consultants would be smart to focus on from time-to time. And, interestingly, one of the tactics to “better listening” was . . . take better notes.
Where this is heading: note taking becomes an analogy of the failure in our disaster recovery “thinking.” That failure? Our focus on the availability and security of data.
I know; that last sentence has you scratching your head . . . it probably came as a surprise to you. But let me explain, by continuing my metaphor.
See, here at infotex, we set new goals for ourselves, on a cyclical basis. At the end of 2019, we all set a goal for 2020 called “Take Better Notes.” We believed that note taking was a tactic in listening that we could all improve on. It was also a tactic in time management because our self-evaluation helped us realize that if we would take better notes, we would address “the details” more efficiently, and thus mitigate operational and reputational risk while lowering the time required to complete a task.
A long way of saying, “take better notes.”
But by March, we were a bit disillusioned. You see, we all took copious, detailed notes. Some of us took those notes electronically, and others used pads of paper. Some of us bought special “journals” for note taking. One of us even drew “process diagrams” in his notes.
But with all the emphasis and focus on note taking, we kept dropping the ball on the minor details. We kept wasting time in meetings trying to decide what was decided in previous meetings. We kept experiencing the symptoms of poor listening and poor time management.
This culminated in a fortunate discussion where we reminded ourselves of the strategy statements and started documenting lessons learned, leading to the notion that it was not about taking notes as much as it was about USING notes.
We learned that success wasn’t as much the capture and archival of information in a secure manner as it was the USE of securely archived information. We learned that because we did not have a method to ensure that we could retrieve information in the notes on the spot, when retrieval was necessary, those notes were rendered useless and, what I was worried the technical team would think if I did not intervene . . . possibly even a waste of time.
Way too often, we will find banks in a disaster recovery situation where the data is both available and secure, but the bank still can’t get to it because the systems that are meant to use the data are still in a state of discombobulation. Disaster recovery plans and the business impact analysis that they’re based on must consider the use of information, and not just the information itself. Our thinking must be about the use of the data, not just the availability and security of the data. In fact, if we can’t use the data, it’s availability and security MAY be seen by nontechnical people as . . . possibly even a waste of time.
Original article by Dan Hadaway CRISC CISA CISM. Founder and Managing Partner, infotex
Dans New Leaf is a fun blog to inspire thought in the area of IT Governance.