TRY MR NARAYAN. HE HANDLED the deal in ’82.”

“Got Mr Narayan’s number from HR. His son answered the phone. Sad to say that he passed away six months ago.”

Narayan carried with him the record of a transaction that he had scripted and executed for the company’s benefit but the company has lost its key details. Barring the record of revenues unearthed from accounting records, the finer details of the transaction got interred with Narayan’s mortal remains. One has only changed names and a few details but what is narrated above is true.  

DAY IN AND DAY OUT WE COME ACROSS  instances where key company information on transactions done in the past are either lost, misplaced or poorly organized.  Despite the advent of information technology that facilitates the proper archival and preservation of corporate records not enough attention is paid towards the preservation of corporate memory.  

AS THE WORLD GOES INCREASINGLY VIRTUAL, the limitations of physical space for preservation of records (barring originals for statutory purposes) is no longer an excuse. The sheer lack of thoughtfulness and lethargy have denied to each one of us, to a greater or lesser degree,  the benefit of historical hindsights at the workplace and this can sometimes prove costly too.

“FILE AND FORGET” MAY BE an essential credo at work but there are issues in filing itself – electronically or otherwise.  Even if it is not proclaimed aloud, the silent scream heard across all offices is “It is too clerical for me to handle.”  The speed and efficiency in the execution of one’s tasks needs to be extended to the process of filing and preservation of corporate records and one cannot harbor the luxurious thought that some one else will do this for us.  The office assistant will soon be an endangered species – if not already, and we have got to help ourselves before it is too late.

ALL IT TAKES IS A LITTLE THOUGHTFULNESS and a very small portion of one’s daily time to properly organize the records related to what we do at work.  The law and the company’s own document retention policy may stipulate minimum periods for the preservation of various categories of records. It is however entirely up to us to imaginatively devise for ourselves the way we preserve the official memories of what we do at work.

LUCKILY FOR US WE HAVE THE benefit of information technology to lean on that makes the process painless, paperless and environment friendly. If one genuinely values what one does at work, what should prevent one from properly preserving the record of what one has done – unless such records are so unwholesome that one is embarrassed if such a record is traced back to its originator !

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