Frustrated man

Get traction in your privacy program

Getting traction in a privacy program and making it effective in driving down privacy risk isn't always about the technology you deploy, the policies and procedures you implement, the number of people in your team, or the size of the budget.

It often comes by tuning into the culture and sub-cultures of your company, especially in the B2C sector.

From my experience working with large global corporations, the less you mention GDPR jargon and quoting article numbers when engaging with teams, the better. Especially leadership and senior management.

Occasionally I get the opportunity to sit in on presentations from some of the larger consultancy companies who fail to hit the mark with their generic presentations peppered with 'article this' and 'article that.'

The content is often not tailored to the individuals they are presenting to, let alone the actual companies (sometimes copy/paste from an earlier client).

To get traction you need to tap into peoples ‘hearts and minds,’ and you do this by digging deeper and discovering the sub-cultures.

Often, you can sense the corporate culture as soon as you enter the company building, or you can ask one or two employees about it up front. You may find significant variation exists between departments, e.g., HR, Marketing, Finance, and LoB.

In some cases you may find unique sub-cultures exist - each requires recognition and fine-tuning into 'cultural frequency,' if you are to communicate and collaborate effectively with them. I see this often in Marketing departments and in IT.

You'll see the variance by observing people and their surroundings:

  • Beards and t-shirt versus suit, tie and clean-cut?
  • An abundance of tattoos?
  • Smartly presented versus casual attire?
  • Sneakers versus high heals?
  • Dark wood furniture (verging on antique) versus functional tech-looking furniture?
  • Photos on their desks - cats or kids?

The choices people make in their appearance, how they arrange their office furniture, the objects on their desks, often reveal a lot about them.

I am not suggesting you should mirror the way people are dressed when you meet them, absolutely not.

In some cases, peoples choices expose personal interests and motivations that you might want to tap into.

You’ll often hear the phrase, ‘what’s in it for me?’ Unless you tap into sub-cultures you’ll struggle to articulate the key messages that will resonate directly with them.

Articulating the complexities of how GDPR intertwines with the ePrivacy Directive and local marketing legislation to your marketing department colleagues will require you to enter 'their world' in terms of language and tone rather than expecting them to get where you are coming from.

Generic is generic.

Getting resonance is important.

Article numbers and recitals sound impressive and important but they are often barriers and triggers to switch off.

Quoting them will not enable resonance with the leadership team (unless you are a law firm perhaps). It certainly won't help with managers and their teams.

All this may sound obvious but are you doing it?

This post was first published in November 2019 on Linkedin

Petruta Pirvan
Tim Clements
February 4, 2022