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Guest Post: Leveraging Mapping for Information Governance

This is a guest post by Jeffrey Ritter.

Several years ago, while professionally challenged by the complexity of explaining how law and technology rules were colliding to influence significant business strategies, my wife observed an advertisement for mapping software on an airplane.  “You need this software,” she said.  In a moment, she transformed my intellectual focus and the direction of my career.  Discovering the full potential of information mapping has enabled me to build my business where I advise companies, enterprise teams, government agencies and lawyers on the single most compelling challenge we face in the 21st century: How do we build digital information that we can trust for the truth?

Digital information is one of the most important assets any enterprise must control.  Yet, very few organizations have the capability of building a complete picture of the rules, risks, costs and controls that must be integrated together in order to achieve effective control.  Mapping has allowed me to organize these different resources and concepts visually.  Doing so has created a powerful tool for facilitating cultural dialogues that must occur among IT, security, compliance, audit, finance and legal functions. Quite simply, information mapping triggers a collaborative engagement among the stakeholders that often overcomes traditional silos and competing agendas.

For many lawyers, the idea of organizing and presenting legal rules in a visual structure remains a challenging proposition.  However, for all of the other enterprise team members who must engage in building effective information governance solutions, a visual map presents a powerful resource for connecting the legal rules to the IT infrastructure (i.e. devices, applications, storage facilities and digital assets) that must be collectively managed in order to achieve control of the information as evidence.

Two critical and unexpected benefits have emerged from my use of MindManager to develop information governance systems and procedures.  First, the maps enable significantly greater detail to be developed in order to assure, from a legal perspective, that all of the questions and loopholes that need to be considered are, in fact, evaluated.  Below a sample map that has been developed to assist lawyers and IT professionals to examine the architecture of an electronic mail management system and determine if the legal duty to protect email from destruction or improper disposition has been properly executed. Google distributed a version of this map nationally to help demonstrate the value of their email archiving product.

Screen Shot_RitterArticle

Second, from an enablement perspective, MindManager has proven to be immensely valuable as the platform from which to deliver education and professional training to all types of audiences – lawyers, records managers, CIOs, information security executives, etc.  The ability to create and present a visual representation of a complex set of concepts or processes has helped simplify communications, bring various groups together with a common understanding, and improve the overall experience of my sessions.

I invite the Mindjet blog community to visit me at to learn more about how I use maps and sign up for announcements for upcoming events and speaking engagements.

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