Sunday, April 29, 2007

Regina Pisa - Second Most Admired Law Firm Leader

Congratulations to Regina Pisa, the managing partner of Goodwin Procter LLP, on being labeled as the second most admired law firm leader [behind Robert M. Dell, chairman and managing partner of the law firm Latham & Watkins LLP and tied with Lee I. Miller, Firm joint chief executive officer of DLA Piper US LLP].

The survey was conducted by Edge International. Edge asked 60 law firm managing partners to identify which law firm leaders, from firms other than their own, they admired the most for their management and leadership competence.

When identifying the qualities that made their selection admirable, the most common responses were:
  • a willingness to make change
  • promote ambitious agendas
  • the ability to handle tough issues
  • ability to get people within the firm aligned
  • a commitment to maintaining the core values of the firm
To me it also interesting to note how many of these qualities line up with the goals of of knowledge management.

Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices: Most-Admired Law Firm Leaders

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Pointy-haired Boss is Blogging

Dilbert - April 26, 2007

Dilbert - April 27, 2007

Updated: Fixed URLs and embedded strips (new feature from Dilbert)

RSS in plain English

For those of you that are unsure of RSS, feed readers, or do not know what those buttons in the right column do, this is an excellent video explanation of RSS: RSS in plain English

Thanks to the Business Filter at The Boston Globe and The Common Craft Show.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Beyond Email as Communication

As Anne Zelenka points out in her post "Busyness vs. Burst: Why Corporate Web Workers Look Unproductive" email has become a single channel of communication for the busy.

Blogs, wikis and RSS offer additional ways to communicate besides email.

Email was a relative easy transition from letters because the paradigm was the same. You write text and address it to someone. I still occasionally receive emails with the full letter text in the message (Dear Doug: . . . ). Email even carries over the antiquated "cc" and 'bcc" concepts from the days of carbon paper to produce copies. (Carbon paper for letters disappeared with typewriters).

Email was cheaper and faster than conventional letters, so it is easy to see why its use became so widespread.

Unfortunately, email has quickly become the only communication tool, rather than one of the communication tools. I often will get stuck in an email thread could have been better dealt with on phone call.

The popularity of the blackberry has solidified the prominence of email as the primary communication tool. Being freed from the shackles of you ethernet cable, all of your email can be hanging on your belt.

Email is the knee-jerk response for communication. Everything can go in there: correspondence, contacts, reminders, documents, to-do lists, etc.

If you look at your email traffic you may realize that all of that email need not be in your inbox. Much of it you do not need to respond immediately (if ever).

A blog can be a better tool if you are announcing something. A wiki can be a better tool for archiving information. Both of these are better ways of sharing information and are more retrievable across the enterprise than email. RSS alerts can be used to promulgate this information through less disruptive means than email.

Monday, April 23, 2007

KM 2.0 and Web 2.0

As we have been hit with the flurry of Web 2.0 tools, is Knowledge Management evolving to KM 2.0.?

As Matt points out in KM 2.0, KM has never been about the technology. The technology is just one tool to help unite people with processes to share knowledge.

The big reason Web 2.0 will not mean KM 2.0 is the percentage of participation. If you look at some of the participation percentages for the big Web 2.0 sites, only a very small percentage of user contribute content. [Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers]

If 1% is the right amount of contributors to Web 2.0 platforms, apply that to the number of workers (or even worse, knowledge workers) in your enterprise. In my case that means for the 750 lawyers in my firm, 8 (I rounded) will contribute to a Web 2.0 like system.

Web 2.0 cannot equate to KM 2.0 because first Web 2.0 needs to be converted to Enterprise 2.0. The massive scale of the internet for producing content fails when it is translated to an enterprise level.

As James Dellow pointed out last month, Web 2.0/Enterprise 2.0 merely provides some new tools for knowledge management.

I am excited to deploy blogs, wikis and RSS in our enterprise. But I do not expect they will operate on our intranet with the same process they do on the internet. In fact, I have been hesitant to even use the terms "blog" or "wiki" in the discussion of the new features coming in the next version of our intranet.

Friday, April 20, 2007


One of my principles of knowledge management is transparency.

Knowledge workers should easily be able to find out information on a particular knowledge object (i.e piece of information or document) in a repository. They should know how it got there, who put it there, when it got put there, why it got put there, and where to find it in the repository.

Storing and Finding

The question in filing or storing material is not, “Where do I put it?”
It should be “Where do I find it?”

You can have the most sophisticated storage systems available, but if you don’t know where to find what’s inside, you’re no better off than having stacks of stuff all over the place.

One of the underlying principles of knowledge management is the sharing of material (i.e. information). As we break down the barriers to sharing, we need to break down the barriers to finding. We need to avoid replacing silos of information with silos of searching.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Does IT Make You More Productive posted an interview with Marshall Van Alstyne. He and his co-authors Sinan Aral and Erik Brynjolfsson recently completed a five-year study analyzing 1,300 projects and 125,000 e-mails to see how IT affects individual productivity.

Some of the key findings are that heavy IT users do more multi-tasking and therefore and can take on a heavier workload.

Download the whole paper here. []

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Searching Precedent vs. Research

My colleague, David Hobbie, thought I should supplement my earlier posts on searching for precedents and research with what makes a good precedent.

Research is about content.
Precedent is about context.

When conducting research the search is focused around the words in the document. When searching for a precedent the context around the document is generally more important than the words in the documents itself.

Here are some factors in a document's context that make a good precedent:
  • Relevant to your topic
  • Recent (a more recent document has more value than an older document)
  • Final (drafts have less value)
  • From a similar type of matter
  • For a similar client
  • Endorsed by a person you report to
  • Was successful (a winning brief is better than a losing brief)
  • From the same jurisdiction (a pleading in Mass. will have different needs than one from NY; a mortgage for property in Cal. will have different needs than one in Tenn.)
Looking at this list, few if these factors will be evident merely from the words in the document. And to the extent the words are in the document, they probably appear very few times. For example, in a mortgage, the state of the property may only appear once in the jurisdiction section of the document.

We have successfully been using WestKM for substantive legal conduct. It is a successful tool for conducting research on our internal documents.

For precedent searches, we are looking at West KM Transactional and Real Practice. They both use some intelligent indexing to identify some of the good precedent factors mentioned above and control your search using these factors.

The problem with these tools is they move away from users request for a single text box search, like Google. Although, the tools improve a particular type of search they start creating silos of searches on top of our silos of documents.

Initial Impressions of Blogs from a Student's Perspective

Jack Vinson is teaching a class at Northwestern on knowledge management. One of the assignments is flogging (forced blogging).

In his post on the Initial impression of Blogs, one of the key issues his students raise is the privacy factor. Most of students seem to operating under pseudonyms. One even added security (blah blah blog).

A few point out the Wall Street Journal article: How Blogging Can Help You Get a Job. They generally seem to be contemplating what to do with their blog. I assume this stems from the forced nature of the blog.

I found it interesting to compare this experience with Enterprise 2.0 blog issues raised by Andrew McAfee's class.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Obstacles to Enterprise 2.0 - Are you busy enough?

Andrew McAfee's MBA class raised a new issue in The Pursuit of Busyness. Would people who use the new Enterprise 2.0 tools (posting to a blog, edit a wiki) be perceived as not spending enough time working?

One of the concerns about most knowledge management projects is that the users will be too busy to contribute. Lawyers are always take the position that they are too busy. In part, because the unit of measurement is the billable hour. The more you work, the more you bill and the more revenue you produce.

I am planning to deploy some Enterprise 2.0 tools in the next version of our intranet using Sharepoint 2007. So I will continue to explore objections to these to tools, as well as the reasons for using them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Knowledge Advisors at HP

I found Stan Garfield's description of Knowledge Advisors at HP to be a great definition

"Knowledge advisors perform the following tasks:

1. Help users learn about and use the available people, process, and technology KM components. Provide consulting on processes and tools.
2. Facilitate collaboration. Connect people to others who can help them or whom they can help.
3. Direct users to the right knowledge sources based on their specific needs. Locate relevant knowledge resources.
4. Assist users in searching for content and knowledge. Find reusable content.
5. Actively offer assistance to work teams. Engage by contacting users, not just waiting for requests to arrive.
6. Review content submitted to repositories for compliance to quality standards, and follow up as required to improve quality.
7. Solicit user feedback. Direct feedback to the right person within the KM team.
8. Conduct training. Create and record self-paced courses.
9. Search for information to help meet deadlines. Send search results to users who are not connected to the network.
10. Network with other knowledge advisors. Back each other up. Help respond to requests. Take over open requests at the end of the work day based on being in different time zones."

Stan also published a report by Knowledge Street "Advisors at Hewlett-Packard: Connecting People with Information" that provides insight to the mix of people, technology and process.

It is the mixing of these three that are the core of a knowledge management project.

KM Sites Search - Update

Lucas McDonnell updated his list of essential knowledge mangagement sites and blogs.

I updated my KM Sites Search, based on the Google Custom Search to add his updates, and a few of my own.

Using my KM Sites Search, you can search all of those blogs and sites at the same time, and just those sites. The box below will run the search. You can go to full page to see the list of sites an blogs being searched.

In Bubble Wrap

This is a promotion for In Bubble Wrap .com

They have a daily give away of business prizes, mostly business books. I am promoting them since I recently won one of the daily prizes. [Winner Photo!]

The prize, The Secret to GE's Success, by Wiliam Rothschild was already on my "to read list" before I won the prize.

Check them out and maybe you can win stuff too.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Transactions Map

I just finished the first version of my Google Maps mashup: Transactions Map.

This combines a Google map with a list and markings of some properties in which I have helped clients invest capital. I thought it was visually powerful to show a select list of properties, scattered across North America.

On the map, if you click on a marker, it zooms into the property location. If you click on the list of properties in the right column, it will move the map to that property location.

I plan to load in more properties, but am looking for easier ways to store and classify the property transactions.

Today, Google rolled out their new My Maps feature. The also enabled a new feature that allows you to pull in information from Google Earth.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Precedent - Document Search Type

A "precedent" search is a search for a model document.

Generally, the key to finding a good precedent is knowing the context in which a document was previously used, rather than text in the document itself.

An example is: " a purchase and sale agreement for a retail shopping center in Florida". "Purchase and Sale Agreement" will be in the text of the document and the name of the document. But "Florida" and "retail shopping center" may not appear in the text of the document. If they do appear, they would appear infrequently.

They key to making a precedent search working is leveraging the document metadata against other systems. For instance, we require users to assign a document to a particular matter. We plan to use that matter identification to pull information from other sources and impute that information on the document.

The other key to a precedent search is using a faceted search to narrow the search results using the additional metadata.

Research - Document Search Type

A "research" search is when the user is looking for documents on a topic. The user may not know if any documents on the topic even exist. The search is typically for keywords in the document.

An example is: information on "arms-dealing".

A user will expect a list of documents displayed by relevancy.

An enterprise search tool excels at this type of search. The user is looking for terms in the document. The enterprise search tool can use its algorithm to identify which documents have the most treatment of the search terms.

A typical DMS will fall short on a "research" search. A typical DMS does not rank searches based on relevancy. If a search yielded dozens or more results, the user would have no reference as to where to start a review of search results. A typical DMS also has an inferior text search engine.

It is the frustration when running a "research" search that users cry out for an enterprise search tool.

Recall - Document Search Type

A "recall" search is when the user knows the document exists and has some specific information about the document that the user can distinguish it from other documents.

Examples are: documents edited in the last five days, all the documents for a particular matter, all of the purchase agreement for a client.

The user will expect a a list of documents that will be over-inclusive, but the list will have information to distinguish the particular document the user is looking for from the rest of the documents.

A DMS excels at this type of search and is core functionality for a DMS. The enterprise search will generally not perform well at this type of search. For the DMS search to be successful, user input is required to make sure the metadata/profile of the document is accurate.

Fetch - Document Search Type

A "fetch" search is when the user has a document ID (with a Document Management System) or a file name (with a file server system).

The user would expect the single document to be returned. There should be no need for relevancy rankings.

The "fetch" search is the most basic of the four types of searches. It is such a basic part of a DMS and works so well in a DMS that most users do not even think of it as a search. Nonetheless, it is the most common search and the most important. A user expects to be able to get a specific document back instantly for editing or reuse, without having to interpret search results.

A "fetch" is core functionality of a DMS. An enterprise search tool would fall short in this type of search. The DMS is keyed to find specific metadata from the document profile. The enterprise search tool typically uses the metadata to influence the relevancy rankings of a particular document.

Four Types of Document Searches

In reviewing user behavior, I have identified four different types of searches for documents:
Separate posts will follow with more information on each type of search and user expectations for search results. The posts will also discuss how well a document management system (DMS) or enterprise search tool will handle the different types of searches