Once Upon IM: How to Tell (and Sell) the Story – Systemscope’s IM Dragons’ Den at ARMA’s Spring Workshops 2017

Systemscope Presents: IM Dragons' DenWhat IM is selling, business isn’t buying. Information Management (IM) in the Government of Canada is often viewed as a burden exercise focused only on compliance rather than building a valued partnership with the business.  Most times, the problem is the message – or the “pitch” – to make senior execs stand up, take notice, and get behind making the right investments in IM.

At this year’s ARMA Spring Workshop in Ottawa, Systemscope offered a unique event that focussed on pulling the IM community out of compliance language and thinking, and starting to understand how to speak to the business and executives to garner support for IM initiatives and investments. We decided to add an interesting and fun twist to the workshop, and put together Systemscope’s very own version of the Dragons’ Den featuring three GC CIOs as our Dragons – Marj Akerley (CIO at Justice Canada), Paul Wagner (CIO at National Research Council) and Angus Howieson (CIO at Infrastructure Canada).

Preparing IM Pitches

Preparing IM Pitches

The session was attended by over 40 participants from a broad range of roles, departments and agencies. Over the course of 3 hours, we talked about how strategic thinking and an understanding of enterprise priorities is needed to tie in IM initiatives and help business understand their value. We also discussed the life of a CIO and ways to support the executives in that role by presenting IM initiatives in ways that make them easy to sell upwards within an organization. We went through the importance of language and had a lively interactive exercise on alternatives to typical IM words and concepts for selling IM to executives. Next, the participants started the hard work of putting together their Dragon-worthy IM pitch!

Paul Wagner, Marj Akerley, and Angus Howieson - IM Dragons for the Day

Paul Wagner, Marj Akerley, and Angus Howieson – IM Dragons for the Day

When the Dragons arrived and the participants made their presentations, the nuggets of advice that the CIOs provided were all practical, real and honest feedback. Some interesting things I heard were:
“Be passionate” – it’s easier to convince others when they know you are passionate and believe in it as well;
“First 30 seconds are important” – use punchy and strong statements that will grab their attention and make them interested; and
“Do you care?” – sometimes using a line to scare or shock executives can be useful in sparking their attention and follow it up with how or why they should care.

IM Dragons Evaluate IM Pitches

IM Dragons Evaluate IM Pitches

The session was a great success with participants able to apply what they learned in a fun yet extremely engaging and educational format. The CIOs also had fun and we thank them for generously giving their time in helping elevate skills in the community. If you would like to hear more about what was said or take a peek at the presentation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.


Linda Lee is a bilingual information management professional with a Masters degree in Library and Information. She has been providing consulting expertise to federal government IM managers and is adept at planning and providing project management of IM resources and IM projects. She has thorough knowledge of the GC IM Strategy, the TBS Policy on IM and other IM policy instruments. As a trained librarian, Linda has more than ten years of practical experience with Government of Canada clients in the areas of information management, information technology, records management, and library services consulting. She has been involved in projects specific to IM awareness and training, IM policies and guidelines, performance measurement, and information architecture. Linda is a consummate professional who diligently works to keep on the leading edge of her field so that her clients are always provided with an optimal practical solution. Her ability to liaise between technical staff and non-technical users of information systems has made her highly sought after in a wide range of consulting and client support requirements.


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