If the information sharing shoe fits…

Imogen Heywood
Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

Information governance (IG) leads are either seen as the evil stepmother (you will not go to the ball), or the fairy godmother (who will wave their magic wand and grant all wishes at the last minute - you will go to the IG ball, and with a shiny new information sharing agreement to boot!).

So, you’re either a professional information sharer helping others to build information sharing pathways, or the wicked witch of the west sending your evil flying monkeys to pull apart their carefully thought out plans. But where do these opposing myths come from, and as an IG lead how can you dispel these myths or change the way you work to challenge them?

Vision and design
You'll probably have heard the one about the IG lead who always says no, you might even have found yourself in this position.  So why does this happen, and what can you do about it?

The key challenge is to make sure you take steps to get involved in the design of initiatives right at the start.  This might not be easy, but you won't know unless you ask.  Help can often be found by asking a member of your senior management team to champion early involvement of the information governance team, for example by using Privacy Impact Assessments.

Making sure you understand your organisation's vision and how you can support it is also important.  Take time to talk to your service head about this, and reach out to your corporate communications team to raise awareness of how you can help others to deliver this vision, with well planned, appropriate and legal information sharing.

Walking in their shoes
Do you find yourself constantly fighting information sharing fires, and wishing you weren't constantly having to solve complicated problems? Then you need to find ways to better understand what your colleagues are doing and why, and if they understand what your role is and the objectives you work to.

As well as walking in their shoes you also need to talk their language? The myths around governance start because non-IG specialists don't understand the technical jargon.  Who really understands the arguments around public interest versus explicit consent or legal statute against a duty of confidentiality? You do and with your help and support so will others if you make what you do accessible.

It's nothing to do with me
You may find yourself feeling unloved, and unappreciated, with others declaring that you won't let them share information when they haven't even asked.  They might even have declared that information sharing is not their job.  It is however, an important part of your job, but not your job alone.  By changing the conversation to "yes, and" rather than "yes, but" you can empower your colleagues to join you on this journey.

It might take a while to get to get to 'happily ever after' but in the meantime, walk, tall, be proud, and be proactive, and you shall go to the ball!  You might even become a real information sharing fairy godmother.

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