Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 2014

It’s been a wonderful experience getting involved with the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk this year. The enthusiasm, passion, and helpfulness of the walk coordinators at the American Cancer Society is awe-inspiring. Looking forward to Sunday Oct 19 at Central Park!

CSR Breast Cancer Flier

 

Build Your Collaboration Model

New technologies over the past decade have allowed firms to develop vast global networks, with hundreds of offices, thousands of employees, and complex system needs. Collaboration within these networks has risen in priority and the needs of the industry have created even newer technologies – ones focused specifically on legal collaboration.

The reverse is true as well: the increase in collaboration tools in the legal world has, in turn, prompted law firms to begin reevaluating the way they consume (and produce) information. Tools for document collaboration, workspace collaboration, and information rights management are highly efficient at automated tracking, reporting, and streamlining the massive volume of information generated by the legal industry.

Incidentally, the legal industry is notoriously not one typically aligned with values of collaboration and cooperation – let alone cross-departmental coordination. Perhaps we have the efficiency of these legal collaboration tools to thank for the slow (but sure!) cultural changes that law firms are beginning to observe internally. What is important to note, however, is that new technologies depend very much on their firms’ business practices supporting and encouraging collaboration.

In their post, David Bilinsky and Garry J. Wise take a look at the importance of collaboration in a law firm environment and caution inaction. They note:

“There is no doubt that the world is changing to more of a collaborative model.
We are facing the fact that we have to change or the world will change without us.”

John Chambers, Cisco CEO and Chairman, perhaps said it best:

“I believe that companies and leaders who do not change will be left behind. And so I had to move from being a command and control leader. You have to learn that you make better decisions through collaboration.”

Bilinksy and Wise approach the successes to be achieved in adopting a collaborative model and outline some steps to take towards creating such a model; to integrate collaboration into law firm business practices (and to move away from “just talking about collaboration”). A summary of their outlined steps to follows this methodology:

  • Start with compliance: everyone on the team complies with the need to do something, but there is very little discussion or coordination between the team members.
  • Next is cooperation: now everyone is still drawing their own plans, but at least now they are sharing what they are doing with the group. But the overall characterization is still on individual action.
  • Lastly is true collaboration: here all the team members not only share their plans but they brainstorm together on generating new ideas of how to achieve the joint goals that transcend individual action.  And by working together, they can achieve outstanding results.

Wise champions “centering collaborative discussions around specific, individual tasks and focusing on how processes utilized to perform them can be streamlined, regularized, and optimized.”

The greatest insight in Bilinsky and Wise’s article is in their identifying that true collaboration requires lawyers and legal professionals to “move beyond their inherent training” in how to be a skilled adversary. The legal world has a bigger hurdle than most to overcome to turn itself into an environment of collaborators. But, Bilinsky and Wise’s vision for a legal world, in which collaboration brings about synergy and creativity, is truly inspiring. The legal industry’s focus is shifting to collaboration tools and cross-departmental interaction, making the environment ripe for cultural (and process) change. Now, more than ever before, strength in the collaborative business model and opportunity in the emerging collaborative tools – when championed with confidence and determination – could lead law firms to that promising future of collaborative creativity sooner than they imagine.

“The Process Of Becoming”

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, then you don’t know what you’re doing. – W. Edward Deming

In a highly insightful and thought-provoking blog post, Bonnie Cheuk – Director of Knowledge Sharing & Collaboration at Citi – asks: what is the future of information professionals? In her explanation, she says:

Personally, I think the major shift is not about technology, it is how we redefine information from “static, objective” information that we can manage as objects to “communicative” information whereby information is a “process of becoming.”

This “process of becoming” is the process to inform, to understand, to share common struggles, to look for facts and multiple perspectives. Ms. Cheuk describes the shift from static information to communicative information as “fundamental,” requiring rethinking the role of information professionals in creating value.

The key term here is “process”: streamlining a set of functions to become a process increases the level of communication, collaboration, and efficiency in most any environment. Ms. Cheuck suggests that knowledge workers and information managers begin to “champion a new way of working” in order to enable their workforces to connect and share information in a process that will drive revenue growth. The law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP – and a number of other law firms — have been doing just that.

This year’s Knowledge Management Ark Group conference featured case study sessions in which firms presented on their successes in new knowledge management initiatives. Kim Craig (Director of Project Management Office) and Andrew Baker (Director of Legal Technology Innovations) of Seyfarth Shaw LLP presented “Process Improvement as a Springboard to Innovation,” explaining the importance of treating the law practice as the process that it is. Their case study centered on the firm’s client service model SeyfarthLean and how is leveraging client relationships to partner on process improvement initiatives – determining and capturing best practices, driving efficiency, consistency, transparency and predictability in spend.

The evolution of SeyfarthLean began in 2006 with a massive initiative to map over 200 legal processes, creating maps for workflows. Next, was an effort to transform the project management office into a client-facing Legal Project Management Office (LPMO), home to fourteen billable, client-facing, full-time project management professionals whose role was to assist attorneys on legal service delivery and further drive efficiency by facilitating process mapping and preparing project management collateral. In 2010, the consulting arm of SeyfarthLean was formed (SeyfarthLean Client Solutions Group) and in 2011 Seyfarth Shaw incorporated the mapped workflows. Soon after, the firm created a Legal Technology Innovations Office (LTIO) which served to enable innovative practice approaches through applied technology and knowledge innovations. LTIO focuses on enhancing the client experience, aiming to ensure that clients feel it easier to do business with Seyfarth and harder to go elsewhere for services.

The conjoined efforts of LTIO and LPMO seek to ensure continuous improvement, looking for patterns in engagement needs and overlap in client requests.

Ms. Cheuck suggests, in her blog post, that to move towards the future and to champion the positive elements of the changing information landscape, information and knowledge managers should:

Offer new perspectives and practical solutions to enable and facilitate knowledge sharing in the organization… It requires [information and knowledge managers] to play a role in shaping a company’s strategic IT roadmap, business model, communication practices, innovation and more.

Seyfarth Shaw  done just that – finding great success in using process improvement as a springboard to innovation by converging the disciplines of project management and technology innovations. Strengthening and streamlining legal functions as a process has created a consistent, efficient, and transparent model that harnesses the knowledge of attorneys, project managers, and technology experts. The move towards workflow-oriented legal project management is an element of the “enormous transformation” Ms. Cheuk sees in the information and knowledge management landscape. The sooner law firms begin to restructure their legal functions and client relationship models, the better they will be able to ride this wave of change and transformation. Now, more than ever, the words of statistician W. Edward Deming ring true:

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, then you don’t know what you’re doing.

Infographics: Metrics, Collaboration, And The Path To KM Enlightenment

When utilizing metrics, take care to make sure you are choosing the right numbers to measure! Measuring the wrong metrics could seriously affect your company’s progress. Take a look at these Six Faults of Counterproductive Metrics.

“The web has done nothing short of revolutionizing the concept of communication. This is especially evident in how businesses work together in the ever-transforming digital age. Here’s a look at what collaboration means and how it has evolved in the enterprise: Dare To Share: A New Culture Of Collaboration In The Enterprise.”

“The average organization today has many implementations of Knowledge Management varying in size and complexity. There are simple implementations, with limited knowledge sources and virtually no maintenance required; there are highly complex ones managing multiple repositories of knowledge and functions. Is there a way to appease the chaos? The Path To KM Enlightenment: How To Reach Nirvana.

“The explosion of available information made possible by the Internet is amazing. But it’s simply not true that this all leads to better productivity. In fact, in many ways this information deluge produces the opposite result. Take a look at the consequences of an information overload along with some ways to cope with it: Reining In The Information Deluge.

“Information Is Food”

How do we consume data? In this Ted Talk, technologist JP Rangaswami muses on our relationship to information, and offers a surprising and sharp insight: we treat it like food.

On Independence

It is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it, even with the best right, but without being OBLIGED to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil