What’s Next? What is your focus for 2015: Strategy, Tactics or Execution?

The number one focus for senior thought leaders at The Cowen Group’s Year-End Roundup Breakfast in New York last Thursday, December 4, was the evolving importance of Strategy and Tactics over execution and operations.

There was no shortage of spirited comments coming from both in-house counsel and legal technologists at Viacom, Voya, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, BlackRock and Pfizer; and outside counsel from Morgan Lewis, Proskauer, and Baker Hostetler to voice the challenges within their organizations presented by the “Politics & Silos “ associated with integrating strategic vision and tactical resources.

Whereas in past discussions my favorite  theme of People, Process, Technology (“PPT”) took shape, today’s leading practitioners expressed an evolution into Strategy, Tactics and Operations (“STO”). While the vast majority of our participants were quite far along the People-Process-Technology maturity curve, the new thinking on STO is just taking hold.

The  rapid convergence of Privacy, Security, Governance and Discovery is causing many organizations to rethink their strategy, tactics and execution. While many of our participants had PPT locked down for Privacy, Security, Governance and Discovery this new convergence is causing some organizations to “Pause,” or re-think the next steps. It’s a strategy re-set.

Some organizations have accomplished a strategic plan but don’t have a handle on the operational tactics needed to implement the plan, or do not have the budget to invest in resources and technology. Other organizations have the talent and skill set to operationalize a strategic plan, but do not have the executive management buy-in or consensus across departments to agree on strategic objectives.

Many professionals also expressed a weighted Stop. Those that have recently invested in a high-level executives to centralize and lead the information governance and security function – are in the “Pause” stage, taking stock of the tools and resources available in order to give the best thought to next steps. “We are being hyperreactive and not strategic enough” was a comment that received resounding agreement in the room.

Across the board, however, was agreement that integration continues to pose an ongoing hurdle to the achievement of goals – both strategic and tactical. Across privacy, legal, risk management, technological, security and records, few organizations have arrived at a consensus that enables all of these interested parties to be truly invested and accountable in an enterprise-wide approach. Integration with clients and strategic partners was also a programmatic challenge that was mentioned by outside counsel and received nodding heads from in-house practitioners as well.

Tying the conversation together was a meaningful comment from a well-known leader in the space who is now leading the information governance function at a top, global law firm, Proskauer:

Pause – Lean Out – Integrate – Automate – Gather Metrics.

All of the above is to say that we are entering the beginning of a breakdown of politics and silos with regard to Privacy, Security, Governance, and Discovery. This breakdown and interdependence and integration will create multiple new roles, responsibilities and reporting structures. We expect several hundred new corporate,  law firm and consulting positions to be created to address this coming leadership need in the next 12-24 months.

Buckle up.