Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Human Side of Information Technology Strategy



  • Sally Gonzalez, Director of Navigant Consulting
  • Tom Baldwin, Chief Knowledge Officer of Sheppard Mullin
  • Felicity Badcock, Online Services Manager of Mallesons Stephen Jaques


The theme of the presentation: You have a great idea, you have the perfect technology, now how do you get the lawyers to use it? [Its like herding cats.]

Lawyers have different personalities. They strive to do more interesting work. They are trained to be fiercely independent. They are immersed in information and it is difficult to have them focus on a task.

Lawyers are resistant to change. They are used to relying on precedents and past history. The legal system is not focused on innovation and changes. The rule of law requires any changes to happen slowly.

Sally referred to John Kotter's eight step road map for change.

Her tips for Success:

  • Understand what motivates professionals
  • Pulling rather than pushing
  • Play to generational differences
  • Structure a communication campaign (people need to see things 7 times to capture attention and establish recognition. Even better use different media)
  • Lawyers training lawyers - They are more likely to respond to one of their own.

Tom presented his case study on extranets at Sheppard Mullin. His challenges were:

  1. No initial buy-in from firm management. He created a sense of urgency by showing a long list of his firm's clients who were using extranets at other law firms.
  2. He found that people were unwilling to change work habits. Secretaries and lawyers are used to doing something in a certain way.
  3. He found it difficult to capture mindshare. People forgot it was there.

His success story was since going live in 2005, he has 596 matters, 233 clients and 3,100+ users.

His methods for success:

  • Find your Al Gore. Someone who wants to take credit for your ideas and will act as an evangelist for the product.
  • Become a good ghost writer. Lawyers are more likely to listen to the message coming from another lawyer. Lawyers are also happen to send out a message of how well they liked using the product.
  • Promote anytime, anywhere. Go to practice group meetings, office meetings, anytime or anyplace there is an audience.
  • Use technology roadshows. Set up a series of booths focused on particular technology tools.
  • Use newsletters, focused on making your users the stars. The newsletter needs to be consistently sent out on a regular basis.
  • Show the numbers. Make sure early on in the project you know what the metrics are going to measure success. Make sure you have a measurement before and after rolling out the tool.

Felicity presented her case study on Decisiv Email at Mallesons. The aim was to improve client service and to deliver productivity improvements related to email correspondence with clients.

Her challenges were:

  • A policy change, moving from paper based files to electronic files.
  • A cultural change, where information that was previously fairly private, was now being shared.
  • Mandated change, so users could not opt out.

Some of the contributions to success:

  • They found using a clear vision being very important in developing the case with a clear message as what is was, why they were doing it and how they were doing it.
  • She also established a user group to evaluate and address issues after the implementation. [This is a great idea!] The group consisted of all types of users.
  • Address the reason for making the change and focus on the users pain points. Solve one or more of their problems.
  • They used multiple communications, with slightly different messages for different types of users.
  • They used testimonial videos (professionally produced).
  • Training was short because the tool was easy to use.
  • She used surveys to track issues.
  • She used metrics to monitor acceptance.
  • She published the names of the bigger users of the system, motivitating and setting up the competitive nature of attorneys.
  • They also sought out positive feedback from clients. Did the clients think they were getting better service.

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