Everything I Know About Records Information Management I Learned from a Parenting Book.
Well, not everything, but a whole lot. And the book isn’t the kind of “how to make your toddler sleep through the night” fantasy you’re probably thinking of—it’s about the skills that children (and, as it turns out, adults) need to thrive in a complicated and uncertain future. But now that I’ve captured your attention, allow me some time to further explain.
In Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, child psychologists Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Golinkoff argue that for today’s children, much about the world they will live in as adults hasn’t been created, and many of the jobs they’ll perform don’t even yet exist. As a result, we do children a disservice if we focus their education on simply memorizing facts and figures, as many subjects they learn today will look much different, or even become irrelevant, in the decades ahead. What’s more, the skills they will need to thrive are becoming increasingly people, rather than fact, focused. In other words, subject matter expertise alone won’t provide them with the skills necessary to solve 21st Century problems.
Instead, Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff argue that for today’s children to succeed in an unknown tomorrow, they also must master the six Cs—a set of “21st Century skills” for a dynamic world. The six Cs are: 1) collaboration; 2) communication; 3) content; 4) critical thinking; 5) creative innovation; and 6) confidence.
The Six Cs Aren’t Just for Kids—They Were Made for RIM, Too
As I read Becoming Brilliant, it occurred to me that developing the six Cs is as important for us grownups operating in the present as it is for the children in our lives who will inherit the future. It also occurred to me that today’s RIM field is an ideal setting to put the six Cs to use.
If you’re involved in your organization’s records and information management program, you know how easy it is to become absorbed in facts, figures, procedures, organizational charts, and governing regulations. Rote learning of ISO standards is part of the job, as is careful attention to details described in flow charts, pie charts, diagrams, and tables. But as we’ve all learned from experience, strict adherence to RIM concepts alone doesn’t guaranty your RIM program will succeed.
Summarizing Each of the Six Cs
In Becoming Brilliant, Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff have created a maturity index for each of the six Cs. With each C, level one is the stage of least development and level four the most advanced. And if there’s one thing we RIM professionals know, it’s how to think in terms of a maturity index. To use communication as an example, level one is driven by pure emotion, without regard to how the message will be received or interpreted. In contrast, level four communication involves collaborative storytelling, crafting messages with clarity, and applying insight from our work and life to each message we receive and convey.
Below is a quick summary of each of the six Cs that Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff detail in their book, along with a few thoughts on how they might be applied to your RIM program:
Collaboration is critical to successful outcomes. Collaboration allows team members to contribute their strengths, and know that their weaknesses are another team member’s strengths. Collaboration discourages teams from competing against each other and working in silos. Good collaboration starts with knowing your teammates and requires that solutions come from all levels and not just the top. Collaboration means building something together instead of cobbling together individual pieces.
Good collaboration is an easy fit within any RIM program. By its nature, RIM is multidisciplinary and multi-departmental. Keeping collaboration front and center while navigating RIM challenges helps ensure that organizational silos and differing skill sets won’t remain a barrier to success.
According to Hirsch-Pasek and Golinkoff, “effective communication is the fuel that propels collaboration.” But in a world dominated by channels such as email, Slack, Trello, and Teams, it seems that “[t]he more elaborate your means of communication, the less we communicate.” To combat this, effective communication involves crisp and precise answers, carefully timing messages, and knowing what not to communicate as much as what to convey. Both listening to and communicating information requires being present instead of distracted. Great communication means recognizing how using digital channels (a necessity during the pandemic) distorts tone and content, and discovering ways to minimize this potential for digital miscommunication.
RIM is all about communicating change. The success or failure of a RIM program can hinge on how well it is communicated to those whose work it impacts. As such, let effective communication be the cornerstone of your RIM program’s success, and know that poor communication is sure to be its downfall.
Content is everywhere and can easily overwhelm. And in the future, the amount of content in our lives will only continue to increase. Valuing content can no longer be limited to knowing and having access to it. Instead, teams must focus on how to efficiently find answers within our abundance of content. This means that deriving insights from content must replace merely accessing facts.
Content mastery requires knowing that learning is never done, and instead must be a lifelong process. Content mastery also must involve constantly reevaluating old assumptions and synthesizing information from multiple sources. Content mastery further means looking outside your traditional focus to find answers to complex problems. To know this means knowing that the answer to your next challenge is just as likely to come from a trip to the park or museum as it is from a technical manual.
As RIM professionals, we manage content, and we’re fortunate to have an abundance of content to tell us how to accomplish this task. However, to be content masters, we must be on the constant lookout for ways to improve our approach to RIM. And perhaps that means remembering to peer outside of the RIM field from time to time in search of insights that can be applied to our work.
Four: Critical Thinking
Hirsch-Pasek and Golinkoff know that critical thinking is not the exclusive domain of inherently smart people, but instead is a learned skill that is sharpened by practice. Critical thinking also is necessary in the age of overwhelming content. Critical thinking is being able to entertain an idea without accepting it. Critical thinking also means asking questions, particularly when it concerns your own thoughts and feelings. Critical thinking is essential to seeing problems that others don’t, and from there, solving these problems.
The RIM field can be rife with hidden and often poorly defined problems. But these problems can turn into an organization’s biggest RIM threats if not handled effectively. Sharp critical thinking is essential to solving these problems and goes hand-in-hand with collaboration, communication, and the next C, creative innovation.
Five: Creative Innovation
Creativity is not simply a product of intelligence, and like critical thinking, it is a learned skill. Creativity is experimenting. Mastering creativity requires making the time and space to be creative apart from the hustle of everyday life. Everyone has the ability to be creative if they take the time to learn how to unleash it.
Perhaps most importantly, creativity is contagious: Creative thinking inspires others to think creatively, and creativity in one part of our lives will often bleed over into others. In RIM, your team must know that creativity is encouraged, and this often comes when creativity is rewarded.
Of course, practicing the six Cs means taking calculated risks, and with any risk comes the possibility of failure. But being willing to take risks, perseverance, experimentation (and yes, even failure), in the long run, lead to more and greater successes. The key to managing all this is having and nurturing confidence. Confidence is taking on new challenges by looking them in the face.
In Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff’s maturity index, level one confidence means barreling on in the face of challenge. This can lead to problems, however, as barreling on can easily lead to overconfidence. On the mature end, confidence consists of “daring to fail”—or stated slightly differently, operating at the edge of your comfort zone. This forces learning, and realizing that success must be measured not by results at a particular moment, but by progress towards a goal.
RIM by its nature is never done. Accordingly, it can be easy to lose sight of successes along the way and forget to be bold in your approach to talking about RIM problems. It also is helpful to remember that those who seem to only encounter success along the RIM journey probably are doing so by avoiding the biggest challenges. But by “daring to fail” at RIM’s biggest challenges, your program has a better shot at achieving bigger successes.
If you’ve struggled with helping take your organizations’ RIM program to the next level or even having your organization accept a formal RIM program at all, perhaps it is time to inject a bit of the six Cs into your approach.
At Zasio, whether it’s troubleshooting a new privacy program, creating data maps to help better understand your organization’s data risks, or creating or refreshing a records retention schedule, we help customers navigate all sorts of tricky RIM-related issues. And we enjoy incorporating the six Cs into our work. If you have questions about your organization’s RIM challenges, or simply want to further discuss the six Cs, please drop us a line.
 Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, p. 86 (American Psychological Association 2016).
 Id. at. 86 (quote by Joseph Priestly (1733-1804) from Tomasello, M. (2001)The cultural origins of human cognition. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press, p.202)).
 Id. at 107.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general education on Information Governance topics. The statements are informational only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your business activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.