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Three ways Hurricane Matthew reminded me of Compliance

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The opinions shared here represent those of the contributor themselves and not those of their employers nor that of Big Men On Content as a whole.

At the beginning of October (2016), I had to put everything on hold and address a category 5 hurricane headed my way.  (That means 157mph winds.)  As I prepared, I was reminded of surviving Julio in open water in a sailboat in 2008.  The lessons I learned growing up helped to understand what we were dealing with.  As I sat prepared for this one, I realized that hurricanes also have lessons for compliance.

Don’t Oversell the Issue

At the end of hurricane preparations my local sheriff made an exaggerated statement.  He reported, “I asked my captain of detectives if he had body bags.”  His over dramatization was repeated again at 10:30 pm, just an hour before the hurricane should hit us.  This was also 30 minutes before the next report from the National Hurricane Center stating that the storm turned away from us.

Often the way organizations are sold on eDiscovery and records management is through horror stories.  When the first event doesn’t meet the hype, it may be harder to get people to act appropriately the next time.

Are you in the zone?

We hear way too often that people shouldn’t get government support for hurricanes as they live “in the zone.”  The hurricane zone is rather large it’s just that they don’t hit everywhere every year.  When Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey coastline people were quickly reminded how large the hurricane zone really was.  In fact since the 1700’s, 84 tropical storms or stronger have hit New York.

Organizations in highly regulated environments are “in the zone” for compliance, but so is everyone else.  You need to understand the basics and be prepared for what you might need.  (Also, don’t oversell the issue.)

No Two Stories are the Same

As I boarded a plane from LaGuardia to Boston 3 days after Matthew passed, I caught a flight attendant and off-duty pilot complaining about surviving the hurricane.  They were stuck an extra night in a hotel in New York the night before.  I must have had some look on my face, because the flight attendant described their story of the “horrific” hurricane that the two had survived  I pointed out that it wasn’t even a tropical wave when it hit New York and that I had just spent three days dealing with the same storm when it was a category 4 storm.

The first organizations that have to address new compliance changes can have large efforts ahead.  Later organizations these same rules may be much easier to address.  (And again, don’t oversell the issue.)

In summary

Probably the biggest less is one that I learned very early on.  It’s also a statement that those that have lived most of their lives dealing with hurricanes, or any storm, often say,

“Plan for the worst and hope for the best.“

And some advice from me, “Don’t oversell it.”

Categorised in: compliance, Enterprise Content Management, Records Management

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