Monthly Archives: August 2014

Oops. With several more zeros.

A politician once said, “A billion here, a billion there; pretty soon it adds up to real money.”  Attributed to Sen. Everett Dirksen.

Well, tell that to the former CFO and the former pharmacy chief at Walgreen’s.  A billion dollar difference in earnings estimates between the April forecast and the July forecast led to their departure.

“$1 Billion Blunder Trips Up Walgreen,” Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2014 A1  Apparently due to a flawed forecast of the cost of prescriptions under Medicare Part D.

I don’t believe the first shareholder suits have been filed yet, but I suspect the D&O insurance carrier has been notified.

Does your company have control systems that would prevent such a “blunder”?  Is it worth (or a part of) your job to check?  If you’re a director, are you liable, or at least responsible?  Is this an information governance issue, or something else?

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Filed under Board, Collect, Controls, Duty of Care, Governance, Inform market, Inform shareholders, Internal controls, Investor relations, Management, Oversight, Risk, Value

Who does information protect?

An interesting result following the increased use of body cameras by police. The number of allegations of misuse of power went down.

“What Happens When the Police Wear Cameras,” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2014 c

Collecting information and using it in business is common. But is merely collecting information a way in which to affect behavior, without even looking at the information? And whose behavior does it affect? Both the wearer and the person who knows they’re being recorded? 60% reduction in claims of excessive force. 88% reduction in citizens’ complaints.

Where else could a wearable camera affect behavior? In your car? Does it matter if it’s a real camera versus a dummy?

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Filed under Collect, Oversight, Privacy, Security, Use, Value


It’s about a year since I started this blog, and I have managed to post more than 425 items, more or less daily entries. These have explored different aspects of the information governance “discipline.”

As I fly back from my daughter’s wedding in Ubud, in the mountains in Bali, Indonesia, I am struck by how easy it has been to find at least one article topic in each issue of The Wall Street Journal.. And it is possible to post from airports and from the front porch, overlooking the rice paddies, listening to the monkeys working their way through the trees.

Thanks for reading these musings.



Filed under Uncategorized

Why there?

The data breach at Target last Christmas was one thing.  Or a prodrome?

“Supervalu Probes Possible Data Breach,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2014 Data from a 1,000 stores may have been breached.  Normal discussion regarding whether and when (if) to notify customers, whether they will take the required precautions, and who pays (and how much) for this.

But why would hackers target a discount grocery chain?  Is it because the controls are weaker than at stores with more credit card sales volume?  Are there lessons for the non-retail businesses? Or just another bog-stand data beach?

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Filed under Compliance, Inform market, Inform shareholders, Protect, Protect information assets, Risk, Security, Value

Is fear the same as information?

I was struck by the extraordinary steps being taken to prevent us from an Ebola outbreak.  I recall a presentation on risk by Dr. Vincent Covello years ago in which he stated that you were less likely to contract HIV from a dentist who knew she or he had it than you were to contract it from a dentist generally. So how do you control,or mitigate that risk?  There’s just something about certain diseases that causes a visceral fear. They are viewed as loathsome.

Today, there were several articles in the Journal that seemed appropriate for a post. The coming collapse of the Internet infrastructure or the different prognostications about the upcoming college football season. But I went with the Ebola story. Why?

“Ebola Fears Prompt Extraordinary Precautions,” Wall Street Journal, August 14, 2014

Is public concern a “factoid” that you factor into your company’s operating decisions?  Should it be?  How do you “use” fear?

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Filed under Communications, Controls, Definition, Inform market, Risk, Use

Undue diligence

Getting information on prospective business partners is common practice. In opaque economies, it’s a felony.

“Chinese Case Raises Risks For Business,” Wall Street Journal, Asia Edition, August 13, 2014 A1

Is this in your risk register?

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Filed under Business Case, Compliance, Governance, Information, Knowledge Management, Risk

Information deficit

If the information upon which you base your decisions is not reliable, then the decisions often turn out badly.

“U.S. Underestimated Urgency of Islamic State Threat,” Wall Street Journal,” August 11, 2014 A1 [] Missing the build-up and strength of the Islamic State has had severe repercussions on the US response.

How reliable and complete is the information upon which your decisions are based?

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Filed under Business Case, Collect, Data quality, Management, Risk, Use, Value