Is That a Shiv in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
By suncpo on Apr 25, 2008
So, for the most part, I try to keep it upbeat here in my bloggaphoric state. I reminisce about privacy glories past & future & chatter on about influences in my life that translate into how privacy strategy is inspired in my head. As I look back over the last several years of postings, I realize that the positive inspirations are pretty accurate.
What I cannot do is discuss actual governance issues that are live or specific to Sun or any of our Customers. What I have not done is talk very much about the day to day how to deal with the Darwinian slug fest of relevance & resources in a multinational corporation. Mostly because I find internal politics bewildering.
Today, I am polishing the newest item in my "shiv in the back" collection. It happens to everyone in the course of a career & from time to time you find that that supposed initial pat on the back or pretended collaboration has a sharp point. I am currently trying to figure out how gracefully to extract my latest shiv without allowing too much political blood letting.
I won't give anything away to shame the guilty party, but the learning process has certainly been instructive and 'character building' for me. In the spirit of transparency, I shall share a glimpse into the life of what is actually fairly functional Big Corp. All in I want to be very clear that I would never have sacrificed time spent with my kids if I didn't believe that Sun is a company with a very high standard of integrity overall. It is. Most days I love working here for that reason.
Privacy is one of those things that is ill defined in most organizations-- every business unit depends upon it to hire employees, deal with internal & external vendors and manage customer relationships. Every organization & business unit has some notion of ownership not only to the data but to the ways & means by which it travels, who gets to decide how to manage it & there is a sense of 'need to know' that is often hierarchical rather than functional.
I am certain that this is office folly rather than anything to do with any subject matter area but an underdefined space seems to invite these types of confrontations. Rather than meetings where people who know how to do things meet to exchange plans and ideas for solving problems, folks who don't understand the subject matter area but either want to block initiatives (sometimes I suspect for sport or a sad type of fun) or "own" the positive outcomes whilst keeping others close to offload any potential downside come late to the party & spend a great deal of time barking orders or undoing productive work. Ego massaging and empire building both are pretty ugly when viewed from the inside.
Such has been my day. We have a small but very experienced team of folks within my direct & virtual team. My job today was to stand in front of bluster & blow hards who would very much like to sound important or would like to seem like leaders because they are loud.
The folks doing the work were somewhat intimidated but, I hope, undaunted. Data privacy, to anyone who has been exposed to it & has been willing to learn, is a complex conversation that must by its very nature span many organizations.
Winning systemic data privacy control within an organization & spreading that control into products & services, marketing, IT, human resources, legal and other groups is a long term vision. The short term actions that lead to the vision require variant amounts of time, money, expertise, political wherewithal and an ability to compromise to do the best you can with the context and resources available.
I am really really really proud of my guys & feel very Momma Bearish when we are attacked to build up someone's ego. That said, this particular momma bear has learned to remember well the attacker but not to bite.
Shivs in the back are irritating, but they won't stop us. Bluster that things are not perfect, misses the point & loses you potential allies. (Things, of course, will never be retrospectfully "perfect" in the search for respectful relationships to personal data cross culturally over time.) The office nasties can whine & moan all they like-- the work doesn't get any easier & it still needs to get done.
The cool thing, of course, is that a certain level of time & experience has shown that a nice Friday afternoon and leaving the office with an empty briefcase for a rare change makes all the difference to me.
Snicker-snack Jabberwocky. THIS privacy junkie's left the building for the day. I'll be ready & nearly willing to take some of your nastiness on Monday but not before.
So, thank you. You have made me a little bit stronger. You made me hate a job that I adore & one that I do well for only a moment. You have forced me to test my resolve to stay & fight for what is right & what is achievable in data protection. You have made my team rally around each other. I shall shine your shiv with pride & laugh quietly to myself when I make you my ally.