Remain Calm You’re Still a CIP

Picture Gildna Radner’s SNL character Emily Litella starting a monologue about wanting to bring an end to AIIM’s “see, I pee” promotion. Picture her rambling on until someone points out that “it’s CIP, as in Certified Information Professional.” Picture her offering up her classic: “never mind” and the skit would end.

As much as it would be comforting, I can’t hide behind a misunderstanding. When I wrote my previous post “Ding Dong the CIP,” I knew what I was doing. I was trying to come to the aid of an association that I have great respect for, and to show support for a decision that I was party to making.

I am writing this today, to acknowledge that the CIP is not dead. We don’t have the witch’s broom in our possession and we’re not going back to Kansas. The scarecrow can keep his brain, the tin man his heart, and the cowardly lion need not cower in the shadows of the forest, because, well, we’ve caused enough confusion, and besides, Christmas is only a week away.

Seriously, I’d love to explore all things CIP in this post but, being mindful of the rapidly approaching holidays, I’ll do my best to be brief, and I’ll try to stick to the facts.

Fact – The CIP is back. Again, you can read John Mancini’s explanation of why the Association made this decision. I will summarize this from the point of view of someone who was in the room when the mistake was made:

We misjudged the importance of the CIP within the industry. We heard, loud and clear, from passionate members of our community that the CIP has value and we decided to work to fix the CIP instead of getting rid of it.

I have no problem announcing this mea culpa because, I’d rather take the position of having been wrong than be accused of being obstinate after having been wrong.

Fact – AIIM is working to meet the demands of a community of professionals that is rapidly growing beyond the ranks or ECM and ERM folk. The things I wrote about in my earlier post are also true. More and more people are dealing with more and more issues around managing information, and many of them don’t identify with Information Management as a profession. AIIM will now work to adapt the CIP to fit a broader and growing body of knowledge. Fact – no organization is more capable of meeting that challenge.

Fact – AIIM is a viable and vitally important source for information about information. To the pundits that suggested that AIIM has had nothing to offer without the CIP, I would say “you couldn’t be more wrong.” The CIP is important, apparently more important than we realized. However, the CIP is far from the only good thing AIIM has to offer to the community of information professionals.

Hopefully, the CIP can grow as the body of knowledge that it is designed to certify one in, grows. Hopefully, AIIM, the AIIM community and the industry that AIIM serves can help focus attention on the CIP going forward. Hopefully, this will cause more people to see the value in holding that certification, and hopefully those people will realize that AIIM remains the preeminent source of research, standards, education and communication around that growing body of knowledge.

It’s a lot to hope for, but my history with AIIM tells me that it can all happen. I received, and accordingly I still hold a CIP. I have an ECMm and an ERMm. I still value the later designations more than the certification. The important thing is that when I needed to learn about handling information that doesn’t respond to a SQL query, I turned to AIIM and AIIM delivered. As that information grew in importance in my workplace, I continued to turn to AIIM for insight and guidance and AIIM continued to deliver. As that information worked its way onto multiple platforms, into the Cloud and onto my phone, I didn’t even have to turn to AIIM. People in the AIIM community had already prepared me for those changes. I heard them at Chapter meetings, at the AIIM Conference and, by proxy, through AIIM’s research, whitepapers and webinars.

Whatever your feelings about the CIP, don’t confuse the certification with the Association. Don’t look upon the CIP as an end point that, once achieved lets you walk away from the community. AIIM has much to offer me, you and the entire community of information professionals and the industries that serve those professionals.

Once good thing came from this mistake, the AIIM community showed that they can still get excited. More than ever, I am looking forward to the AIIM Conference in New Orleans and I hope to see you there.

My Annual Plug

imageI’ve been writing this blog for almost five years. During that time, I’ve talked about lots of products that we use (in addition to SharePoint of course). I’ve talked about people we have worked with and conferences that I’ve attended. There’s only one organization’s event that I’ve ever really dedicated a post to. That organization is AIIM and this is that post. It’s a good time for this post for two reasons: 1) the conference is coming up soon, and 2) my SharePoint coworker has been on vacation so it’s been a slow news week here in the office.

In about 6 weeks, AIIM 14 will take place in Orlando, FL. Right now, looking out over 4’ mounds of snow in my yard as I watch freezing rain pour down, sunshine and warmth seems like something out of a fairy tale, but they have it in abundance in Orlando. So, if you’re a fan of such stuff, you have reason enough to go. But, that’s not why I’m going. I like winter. I like snow. I’m going to Orlando, to AIIM 14, to learn.image

If you want to know “how” to use SharePoint, there are just under a zillion conferences you can go to. There’s probably a great one on Saturday or at least there will be, on an upcoming Saturday within walking distance of your house. If you want to know what Microsoft plans to do with SharePoint and what they think you should do with SharePoint, there’s something big happening pretty soon in Las Vegas. But, if you want to know “why” you should be using SharePoint (or any ECM/collaboration solution) or how you might use it better, you need to go to AIIM.

Seriously, nobody understands content like the folks at AIIM and the folks that will be speaking at AIIM 14.

OK, disclaimer time. Sheesh, this gets bigger every year. 1) I will be speaking at AIIM 14. 2) I am the Program Director for the AIIM New England Chapter. 3) I am on the Board of Directors of AIIM International.

Do I have a vested interest in wanting you to go to AIIM 14? I guess, kinda-sorta, but it’s not like I make any money from AIIM. It’s not like working with AIIM, AIIM NE, speaking at the conference or (writing this blog for that matter) will ever lead to increased sales. Well, that is assuming that none of you have an uninsured nuclear reactor hanging around. I attend the AIIM Conference to learn. That’s the benefit I bring back to the office. I have been attending the AIIM Conference, every year since 2000 in order to learn and I have never not learned something that has helped me do my job better. Every single conference has been worth the effort, worth the expense, worth the time; this year will not be different – AIIM 14 will be worth the trip.

The AIIM Conference offers one of the best conference experiences I’ve ever had. It’s big enough to attract some really cool keynote speakers, but it’s small enough to be comfy. You can meet people and actually see them again after you’ve met them. You can meet the speakers, the organizers, the staff members at AIIM, the Board members of AIIM and you will have plenty of opportunities to talk with all those people. It’s also small enough to sell out, so if you want to go, get moving.

My presentation at AIIM 14 is titled “From Hoarders to Pickers and Pawn Starsyou can read about it here, but I think it will be better in person. One of the things people have told me that they like about my presentations is that I talk about things that go wrong, don’t work or cause problems. I also try to point out how we got those things back on track. You’ll hear a lot of real life experience at AIIM 14, told by the end-users, managers, CIO and VP’s who struggled through them and a few who stepped up and hit a home run off the first pitch.

In addition to hearing and talking and taking notes, I’ve made numerous connections at the AIIM Conference that are some of the most important people in my little network.

OK, I hear the “yeah, yeah, we get it, you’re going to AIIM 14 and I should too” comments and I feel the effect of hundreds of shaking heads. There are so many choices today when it comes to ways of acquiring information that I thought I’d share my favorite way with you. Next week, I’ll have another SharePoint Story – maybe about something that worked.

CIP – Attained

clip_image002In a recent conversation on LinkedIn, a member raised the question of whether or not a person could have too many certifications. Her concern was that one might start to appear as a “jack-of-all-trades”, and I assume she was hinting at the disparaging follow-on to that phrase “…and master of none.” Well, I can’t be accused of having too many certifications; in fact I just received my very first. AIIM’s Certified Information Professional designation has been on my wish list since I first heard John Mancini mention it at an AIIM New England Chapter event in Concord, MA, but it remained elusive until last week. I took the exam on Monday and I am happy to report that I passed.

Why? – I have never put much stock in Certifications, mainly because I’ve seen so many bad practitioners who hold many, and because I have been privileged to work with some exemplary professionals who hold none. Of course, there are many, many people that fall between those extremes, but I’ve always felt that having the certification was at best an interesting side-note. The other thing that bothers me about most technology certifications is that they are tied to a specific technology. Information management – a.k.a. the stuff I’ve been doing throughout my career – has been merely supported by specific technologies. That’s what I like about the CIP; it’s an affirmation that the holder understands a broad body of knowledge that is agnostic of specific technologies. The CIP feels like the certification that represents the work that I do. I like the idea that there IS an accepted body of knowledge governing this industry and I feel good saying that I understand the fundamentals – in other words – I’m not making this stuff up.

Why now? – I guess there are two ways to answer this question. The cheeky way would be to point out that the CIP is relatively new, and I took the exam as soon as I could. There is some truth to that answer, but the second answer recognizes that it’s important to send the message that you’re never too old to learn, and it’s never too late to improve that which you have been doing “well enough” for years. My goal was actually broader than those answers. I hope that I can use this experience to help others understand that “information management” is not a technology, is not dependent on any one technology and handling information well is everyone’s job regardless of the technology in use.

Why AIIM? – Because that’s where the certification is. Sorry but this reminds me of an episode of M*A*S*H in which Hawkeye was told by a woman that there was a well for water about 2 miles away. He exclaimed “how can you do that?” (Walk 2 miles for water) and she replied: “Because that is where the water is” – Seriously though – why not AIIM? Who better to decide what a represents a broad look at information than the people who do that for a living? I’ve disclosed on numerous occasions that I’m an AIIM Professional Member, a member of the Board of the AIIM New England Chapter and, as of 1/1/13, a member of the Board of AIIM International. You are free to draw lines between me and AIIM and the CIP and this blog post, but make sure you put the arrowheads on the right end of those lines. I have chosen to become more involved with AIIM because I support the mission of the Association and I appreciate the quality of the products and services produced by the highly talented AIIM staff. This isn’t like “I got my MCSE Certification because my employer requires it.” This is “when my employer asked me to take on this responsibility, I turned to AIIM for education. Now, I am proud to be able to say that I meet their standard.” In fact, I’ve been writing this blog for over 4 years, and that sentiment has always been in my profile – go ahead and look, it’s in there.

Should you get your CIP? – I can’t answer that, but I will say that I think it is going to be a meaningful certificate. It seems to be gaining traction. The Department of Labor recognizes it, and some employers have started to list it as a qualification. The more important question is “do you understand why there are document management features in SharePoint?” “Do you understand the difference between Content Management and Records Management?” Actually there are plenty of questions like that; 100 will be on the exam. Maybe you should see for yourself if this is a certification you would like to have.

We Interrupt SharePoint Stories

clip_image002Unless you’re new to this blog, you know that in addition to managing technical things at a small insurance company, I am a member of AIIM. What you might not know is that for the Chapter year that began July 1, 2012, I am responsible the events that the New England chapter of AIIM will produce. Most of our events are in the greater Boston area, but we will be stepping into CT and perhaps western MA. We will be holding a variety of events, some social, some educational and we could use some help. Our event schedule is almost complete, and we are planning events around the following topics:

  • Social Media use inside the organization
  • SharePoint’s content management, and process improvement features
  • AIIM and AIIM New England
  • Security
  • Records Management
  • Training for AIIM’s Certified Information Professional Certificate

Some of these events will involve seminar style presentations by people with expertise in the topic area. Some will involve panel discussions and some will mix the two styles. We are currently looking for speakers/panelists, sponsors and of course, attendees. What can you expect in exchange for filling one of these roles? I’m glad you asked:

Speakers – AIIM Chapter events are fun, and you’re the star. In many cases, we can adapt our program to fit your message; if you need more time, you got it. If you prefer something less formal than talking off a slide deck, talk to us. If you have a product you want to feature – AND you have a customer who will talk about it – we want to hear from you. Once you agree to participate, we will talk about you in our marketing, on our website, in our blogs, in Twitter, on Facebook and we will continue talking about you as long as you continue to be interesting.

Sponsors – In addition to the blogging, Twitter chatter, Facebook liking and marketing material that you will be featured in and on, we will plaster your message across our website in a banner ad. We will also give you a few minutes during the event(s) you sponsor to speak directly to the audience. Our events also feature adequate time for networking. You can sponsor an individual event, a series of events or the entire Chapter program.

Attendees – AIIM Chapter events are a great way to explore and learn about topics of interest to you. Nobody is in a hurry to move to the next session, so there is adequate time to answer questions, have discussions, and dig into the details. Some of our 2011 events were characterized by 50% or more of audience interaction! In addition, since you are in your own backyard, the people you meet are more likely to be people you can connect with again face-to-face, as well as virtually.

Everybody at an AIIM Chapter event becomes part of the Chapter community. Not a virtual community, a real community, the kind where you might stop by to share a cup of coffee or a couple of beers after work. In fact, we will provide at least two events at which you can do just that. We will kick-off our program year with a social event in nearby Waltham, MA, and we also hold an Annual Holiday Social event. Last year, the Holiday Social was held at the Marriott in Newton, MA.

The New England Chapter is one of the oldest AIIM Chapters. We have numerous AIIM fellows, Distinguished Achievement Award holders and several of our members have served on the AIIM Board; in fact, at least one of our current members is a previous Chairman of the Association. AIIM NE is a storied Chapter and we are looking to continue writing history as we move through our 5th decade! Join us for an event; share your expertise with your neighbors, support a great program or come, listen and learn. You can reach me through this blog, ping me on Twitter, email through LinkedIn, or reach out to me through the Chapter contact points listed above. I hope to see you at an event in New England this year.