Knowing When to Stop. I am a big fan of Jim Collins author of the business classic “Good to Great.”He counsels that deciding what to STOP doing is as important as deciding what projects we START. It is so easy to continue doing things – because we have always done them. Managing change is not easy. You may take some heat… it’s part of the job.
Decades ago I took one bold leap into the future. I decided to stop sending law reviews to the bindery. It was after the most current issues of law reviews were on Lexis and Westlaw but before the full archives and images appeared in HeinOnline. I could no longer in good conscience spend the firm’s money and staff time on this legacy ritual that was creating gilded buckram volumes destined for the dumpster within a few years. OK I can hear the snickers – what’s the big deal? Well I was at a rather …”scholarly/nerdy” law firm at the time – lawyers even wanted us to bind their private sets of law reviews from their alma mater… so my decision did raise some eyebrows. I was later reviled for suggesting that we should stop delivering the daily newspapers to every lawyers office (redundant, inefficient, not green.)
I was pilloried for suggesting that the associates no longer looked at Shepard’s in print – a notion which I tested by putting rubber bands around all the volumes – to prove that this work had all moved online. But to the partners Shepard’s Citator volumes were so iconic practicing law without these books was unthinkable. So we also have the unenviable task of building consensus around our changes. Luckily the “Great Recession” has had a remarkable impact on making lawyers more amenable to change, especially if you can show them the dollar signs. But there is no question you need to choose your battles, prepare carefully and assess the impact on lawyers – your clients when you introduce change.
Make Room For Value. The speed with which old processes and assumptions become obsolete is accelerating. We can only deliver more value by eliminating or streamlining the routine, the redundant and the unexamined.
The Wisdom of Colleagues. In the spirit of collecting the wisdom of colleagues, I thought it would be interesting to do a poll on what we started or stopped in 2013 and on what we plan to start or stop in 2014. What products did we stop using? what new ones will we adopt in 2014?
The Poll: Please take the brief (10 question) Start/Stop 2013/2014 Poll
The Survey will remain open until January 15th and I will report on the results. Thanks in advance to all participants.
Also of note: Greg Lambert and I were on the same theme today. He has an even more aggressive take on what to STOP in his post Building Innovative Law Library by Subtracting Essential Services.