AIIM, Associations, and My Career

2012-08-13 20.13.51I recently renewed my paid membership in AIIM, the Global Association for Information Professionals, for whom I am also the Chief Information Officer. I have been a member of AIIM in some form going back to 2003. To the right is my 2003 welcome letter from John Mancini that I stumbled upon just the other day.

I’ve also been a member of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) since 1998. This is a Computer Science based association. I interacted with them back in college but joined them years later because I liked their programs and I had the money to join.

The reason I bring this up is because Lane Severson asked me an important question when I tweeted that I had re-upped my AIIM membership. His question, You gonna expense that?

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Translating Experience to the CIP

When I took the Certified Information Professional (CIP) exam back in January, I didn’t study due to a bet. This made the process more challenging than necessary. What I wanted to do today was see if you could guess which area I scored the lowest.

I’m not leaving you without any information. You can always look at what I’ve been blogging about for clues. There is also my LinkedIn profile which will tell you what I’ve done over my career. Finally, checking out what each domain area in the CIP exam covers should help you match that all together.

This of course, begs the question, what do you get for guessing correctly? That is a tough one. The poll is anonymous, so it will be hard to reward individuals…so let’s crowdsource. I’ll take suggestions for all readers (making me publicly confess some dark secret of some sort) and for those readers that share their correct guess in the comments prior to my announcing results.

I’ll run this poll for one week. At the end I’ll share the correct answer, the area that I knew the best, and what areas I missed a question. This should help people determine what areas they may be lacking knowledge in as a supplement to the Sample Exam.

What Being a Certified Information Professional Says

Certifiied Information Professional (CIP) logoIt’s been almost six months since I took and passed the CIP exam, becoming a Certified Information Professional. At that time I said I thought it was a valid measure of someone’s worth as an Information Professional. Since then, everyone I’ve talked to that has taken the exam has concurred.

If it is a valid measure, then those who have become a CIP are the kind of person you want in a senior role on any Information-centric project. Right? Is that a true statement?

What about a Big Data project?

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Career of an Information Professional, from Developer to CIO

imageI was having lunch with a colleague the other day. As I was describing to him the challenges I’m tackling as the Chief Information Officer over at AIIM, he asked me, “What prepared you for all that?” I gave a generic answer about how my last job prepared me but as I think back, I’m wrong.

Everything worked to prepare me.

You often heard it said that we are the accumulation of our experiences. If I had to distill what it was that prepared me for my current position, there are several things that did so over time.

While this is far from the only career path to CIO, this was my path. For many Information Professionals, it can be their path.

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The Need for Vacation

I’ve always been a believer in taking time away from work. Sometimes you just need a day, sometimes you need a full two weeks. The point is that in order to stay sane, you just need a break from the stress of work to recharge.

Well, I saw a tweet from Ann Lombardi today and it made me want to speak out.

Bears repeating: #USA has west. world’s largest % of lost use/lose #vacation time. Break that workoholism cycle. #travel

The implication is that this is a bad thing. I think the stat is a good thing. Here’s why…

Most companies have a limit to the amount of vacation an employee can carry over from year to year. This is setup so employees cannot carry large amount of vacation around for years, leading to a massive cash expenditure when the employee leaves. Another side effect of unlimited carry-over is that nobody is forced to take a vacation. If you don’t take a vacation it doesn’t matter. You will still get the benefit in cash when you leave the company.

Most companies that decide to not let employees carry large volumes of vacation from year to year and allow employees to cash out excess vacation at the end of the year. This is worse. Now employees can earn a bonus simply by not taking vacation. The message is “Work hard and earn an extra year-end bonus”.

Finally, there are the companies that have a use or lose policy. Employees are permitted to carry over a certain amount of hours each year but any hours in excess of that are lost. No money. Nothing.

My last company had this policy. You could carry over two weeks of vacation from one year to the next. Anything left over you lost.

Contrary to what you might think, this was great. People could save some vacation for big trips but employees essentially had to take their full allotment of vacation or it was gone.

The result? People took vacations. They did their best to make sure that the benefit wasn’t left on the table. There were always people scrambling at the end of the year when they realized they hadn’t planned adequately, but that rarely occurred twice.

In fact, this policy forced some of the more workaholic people to take time away. That was critical in reducing burnout.

Use or lose vacation is great. It drives the desired behavior, which is time away from the office to recharge. While many U.S. companies may not give out nearly as much vacation as the European countries, the use or lose concept works.

Certified Information Professional, A Valid Measure

Yesterday I talked a little about why the concept of a Certified Information Professional is important to making Information Management a real profession and the gap that it is aiming to fill. Today I want to talk about the exam itself and whether or not it is a good measurement tool.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details on how the exam was prepared by outside experts or any of that. While important, that isn’t a true measure. I think the true measure is the opinions of the battle-scarred veterans of the Information wars. Being one, I offer my opinion here to start building a consensus.

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Becoming a Certified Information Professional

Certifiied Information Professional (CIP) logoToday I went out and passed AIIM’s Certified Information Professional exam. There are a lot of thoughts I want to share around this action, but it is going to take a couple of posts. In this post I am going to cover the Why. Later I will cover the What.

The first thing I want to say is that working for AIIM is not the reason I took the exam. My original goal had been to listen to feedback from others before I took the exam. It was always in my 2012 plans. Joining AIIM just moved me from the laggard position to that of the evaluator.

After all, if I was going to be the lead Information Professional at AIIM I should at least check out the certification sooner rather than later.

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My Next Life as AIIM’s CIO

Pretty exciting, eh? Definitely a different, yet very, familiar role. When you consider that I’m joining a pretty good team that just added Cheryl McKinnon as VP of Marketing, you can start to see some exciting, or at least interesting, times ahead.

Now that you’ve read the answer to the open-ended question from a week ago, what else is there to tell you? How about the story behind my move to AIIM and a little about what I see happening in my future?

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Be Nice, It’s a Small World

Over my career, I have seen quite a bit of turnover on my various projects and companies, from both sides.  Normally, things remain professional, and the companies and clients involved are impacted as little as possible given the circumstances.

Let’s face it, if an architect leaves, it is hard to replace that skill and knowledge.  Regardless, attempts are made to try and minimize the change.  Obviously there is not a lot transition when someone is fired versus their resigning, but that is hopefully a case of addition by subtraction.

Every now and then, you come across an example that reminds you of the importance of the social skills you learned in kindergarten.  Before we get into that though, let’s look at the reality of our industry.

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ECM Industry Goals: Start with Yourself

In the last few weeks while I’ve been on a writing (thought not working) sabbatical, I’ve been surprised by a confluence of events and activities that have all tied together.  The common theme can best be summed-up in one question:

Where do you want to be in 5+ years?

This is an important question for people, organizations, and for the ECM industry.  I’m going to start with people first because all of my readers happen to fall in that category.

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