Records Management

The Psychology of Records Management – Rules of the Road for Cultural Change

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Joseph M. Juran (1904 – 2008) was an expert in Cultural Change. Juran? – I…

Joseph M. Juran (1904 – 2008) was an expert in Cultural Change. Juran? – I thought he was a statistics/quality guy? Yes, that’s him! You see back in the 1970s and 1980s statistics was not an esteemed tool for assuring manufacturing quality. Statistics was for college courses, gamblers, and life insurance companies. Juran and several other “quality gurus” had a huge influence on the “value recognition” and subsequent maturity of the use of statistics for corporate success. Today, no one in their right mind would buy a piece of equipment that had not been tested and confirmed statistically to be able to repetitively perform its intended task.

Beyond teaching statistics and quality processes, Juran provided insight for implementation of changes. That insight was simple – yet profound. It was intuitive – yet commonly unrecognized and ignored. It explains why many operational changes companies want to make don’t happen, at least not as intended; either they are revised, or taking much longer than necessary – or both! Yeh, Yeh, enough of the buildup – what is it? Juran identified that for any operational or technological change, there were actually two changes taking place – the operational or technical change, and the social consequence of that change. The social consequence is a troublemaker!

Juran believed so strongly in this that he included it in much, if not all, of his quality system teachings. I first heard this during a Juran video teaching series on statistics back in the 80’s. Imagine my surprise when in the middle of a sequence of statistical teachings, Juran starts talking about how companies have cultures and you must effectively deal with that culture in order to enact your change. He gave historic examples of cultures resisting change and provided recommendations for dealing with that inevitable resistance. He called this set of recommendations the “Rules of the Road”. As it turned out – it was the most valuable part of the teaching series, and I remember it like it was last week.

Sure, sure, … but this is about Records Management remember? Well, Records Management is on a trajectory to become a well-respected business discipline similar to statistics in the 70s and 80s, and we would do well to benefit from some of the “lessons learned” along the way. The reality is that if you are an advocate for improving in your company’s Records and Information Management program that requires changes in what people do, you are a Change Agent! Maybe you didn’t ask for it, or don’t want to be, but you are. Understanding that the changes you seek will have social consequences and using Juran’s “Rules of the Road” will help you. You can be successful (and actually to achieve your goals – you must be successful) in changing the way people think and behave!

To make sure I got it right, I checked two of Joseph Juran’s books out of the library which will serve as my official references for this “Rules of the Road” sub-series:

Juran on Leadership for Quality – An Executive Handbook by J.M. Juran

Copyright 1989 by Juran Institute, Inc.

Published by The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, Inc., New York, New York, 10022

Managerial Breakthrough – The Classic Book of Improving Management Performance by J.M. Juran

Copyright 1995 by McGraw-Hill

Published by McGraw-Hill, New York, New York, 10011

Next time I will begin providing more specifics about each “Rule of the Road” and share some of Juran’s stories along with my experiences and observations over the years in using these. But here is where we start; here are Joseph M. Juran’s “Rules of the Road

  1. Provide participation to the recipient society
  2. Avoid surprises
  3. Provide enough time for the recipient society
  4. Start small and keep it fluid
  5. Create a favorable social climate
  6. Weave the change into an existing, acceptable part of the cultural pattern
  7. Provide a quid pro quo
  8. Respond positively
  9. Work with the recognized leadership of the culture
  10. Treat the people with dignity
  11. Keep it constructive
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