January 10, 2009
This move has been in the works for some time. In fact, once it became clear that Above and Beyond KM was going to be an important part of my life, it began to make more sense to give it a home of its own. So I've taken the plunge and gone solo. And now, The Pleasure of Your Company is requested at the new site. Please join me over there, take a look around, and let me know what you think of the new digs.
On your way over, please remember to subscribe to updates on the new site so that we can continue the conversation. It's that conversation that has made this blog so rewarding for me. And, because of that, I want to thank you for your company on the journey thus far. It's been incredible.
[Photo credit: Oldtasty, Creative Commons license]
December 31, 2008
Chief Judge Kaye tells an amusing story about why expanding the jury pool was necessary: her daughter discovered that it was "a great place to meet guys." As any loving mother knows, you increase your daughter's chances of making a good match by increasing the number of potential mates in the pool (regardless of the real purpose of the pool).
What works in matchmaking works in knowledge sharing as well. The bigger the pool, the greater the available knowledge on which you can draw. Users of social media are discovering that by interacting more regularly and transparently with their social networks they are able to learn and share more than ever before. In the process, the pool grows and the participants themselves grow. Despite this reality, finding a way to bring the power of the bigger pool inside enterprises via social media tools continues to be a challenge for knowledge management.
In 2009, look for more ways to take an expansive view -- not only in how you work, but in the tools you provide that help make the pool bigger for everyone. If social computing has taught us anything, it is that this generosity is returned time and time again.
December 29, 2008
Why is change so hard? According to a recent article in Scientific American, from our mid-twenties until our late fifties, we tend to be less open to new experiences and this makes us more resistant to change. As we face the challenges and responsibilities of adult life, our brains seem to prefer the security of stability rather than the chaos that change represents. According to Gerhard Roth,
The brain is always trying to automate things and to create habits, which it imbues with feelings of pleasure. Holding to the tried and true gives us a feeling of security, safety, and competence while at the same time reducing our fear of the future and of failure.
The final nail in the coffin of change is our tendency to have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved. This is known as the "false hope" syndrome in which we attempt more change than is wise or possible, and then fail. No wonder most of us find it so difficult to change.
So what happens when your knowledge management program requires a change in behavior on the part of the lawyers in your law firm? You should assume that you will meet passive if not active resistance. But that doesn't give us a free pass to avoid change. Since change often is necessary, we need to plan carefully to ensure that the proposed change can be achieved. This suggests that we set reasonable goals requiring incremental (rather than radical) change and that we frame the change in a way that is least threatening to the sense of stability and security of our users.
Incremental change rarely results in banner headlines, but given what we now know about human psychology, it may be the only kind of change that is viable.
December 26, 2008
To celebrate that excellence, our blogging colleagues in Canada have instituted the Canadian Law Blog Awards, or CLawBies. The creator of the CLawBies, Steve Matthews (the terrific Vancouver Law Librarian and founder of Stem Legal), has implemented an innovative nomination process this year with the goal of fostering "some audience sharing & link-based infrastructure between members of the Canadian law blog community."
In deciding which blogs I would nominate, I was interested to discover that in every case I read these blogs because they are consistently good rather than because they are Canadian. (The fact that they are Canadian is a bonus as far as I'm concerned.) Here are the Canadian blogs I've enjoyed in the past year:
Connie Crosby -- I read Connie's blog regularly and follow her on Twitter. Her background in law libraries and social networking gives her insight into those knowledge management issues that keep me occupied. Above all, how can you not pay attention to a great "Info Diva"?
Law21 -- Jordan Furlong's blog is a must-read for anyone thinking hard about intelligent ways to practice law. And, even if you're not, he's such a good writer that I'd recommend you read him anyhow!
Slaw -- This is a category-busting blog: a community effort that covers a wide range of legal and cultural topics. There's always something of interest and, due to the number of contributors, there is always something new.
Finally, I do want to thank Steve Matthews personally. He has been a terrific supporter of legal blogging on either side of the 49th parallel. Steve's efforts to promote individual bloggers and legal blogging generally are marked with the kind of personal generosity that makes the blawgosphere such a rewarding place for those of us interested in good conversation and community. Thanks, Steve!
December 24, 2008
For those of you unfamiliar with the service of lessons and carols, it is a tradition that began in 1918. It tells the story of prophecy and fulfillment, drawing on sources in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. The lessons read from the Bible each year are the same ones read in 1918. What changes from year to year are the carols chosen. After each lesson, the superb King's College choir sings two different carols that are thematically related to the lesson just read. These carols draw on centuries of Christmas music and always feature some golden oldies. However, every year the choir commissions one new carol to be premiered during the service. This year, the new carol is entitled "Mary" and was composed by Dominic Muldowney.
I've written before about the value of incremental change. Not every law firm needs a revolution in order to have a great knowledge management effort. However, every law firm will benefit from knowledge managers who are constantly focused on making incremental improvements to the KM program, especially if those changes result in improvements in the way the firm delivers superior service to its clients. The key incremental change offered by King's College is the newly-commissioned carol. Commissioning a new piece of music is not something you do on the fly. It requires planning, inspiration, effort and time. It also requires the consistent excellence in delivery for which the choir of King's College is famous.
Plan for constant incremental improvements. Cast your net widely to find your inspiration and then cull those ideas until you find something truly worth the effort and time required. Next, be sure that you have staff and systems that operate at a level of excellence. With all these elements in place, your KM program and your law firm will be able to reap the benefits of constant incremental improvement.
December 23, 2008
And what was the gift? Dennis Kennedy was kind enough to include Above and Beyond KM on his 2008 list of notable blogs, also known as Dennis Kennedy's 2008 Law-related Blogging Awards (The Blawggies). I was surprised and delighted to find myself in the company of some terrific bloggers. I invite you to spend a little time with the blawgs and blawggers Dennis called out for recognition. The list covers a wide range of law-related subjects and provides lots of thought-provoking reading.
All of this starts with Dennis, one of the pioneers of legal blogging. I was reading his writing before I even realized what a blog was. He has set a high standard not only for great content and longevity in this business but, most of all, for generosity.
So, thank you Dennis Kennedy!
With best wishes for the Holidays,
And, because I couldn't resist, here's an excerpt from my post on April 15 in which I quote Dennis Kennedy:
In the inimitable words of Dennis Kennedy: "I have no doubt that Tom Mighell has mentioned many more new legal blogs than the number of blogs that have links back to his blog. He's a saint – I'm not quite that saintly." Dennis makes this observation in the course of a post entitled "What are the Most Common Mistakes a New Legal Blogger Makes," in which he reminds bloggers who are lucky enough to be mentioned by a more established blogger that they should not be delinquent in thanking the experienced blogger.
December 22, 2008
What's the corrective for this? Pay attention to people -- pay close attention. In a post about living artfully that is well worth reading as we approach the season of resolutions, Dustin Wax has the following observation about why paying attention to people pays off:
When we pay attention to people, really pay attention, it brings forth something in them that’s amazing. This is something I learned as an anthropologist – people love to tell their storiesIt's those stories that allow us to match our KM program to the current needs or pain points experienced by the people we serve. It also helps prevent our deploying programs that miss the mark. Pay attention to the people first and then see how technology can help. You won't regret it.. All they need is someone to really listen to them. And when people give you their stories, it enriches your own story.
December 19, 2008
(Cookies `n Cream? Heath Bar Crunch? Mint Chocolate Chip? Butter Pecan? Help!)
So here's what I did. I looked at the blog posts my readers seemed to like the most (based on site traffic reports and comments received) and then I thought about the posts I particularly enjoyed writing. Here's the list I came up with today:
Is Your KM Department Serving Fish?
The Problem with Low-Hanging Fruit
Overcoming Hurdles to Web 2.0
Is Your Knowledge Management Strategic?
Why KM Needs Good Design
KM and the Pantyhose Fallacy
Putting Blinders on to Enhance Productivity
Just One Thing
If you asked me tomorrow, I might come up with a different list. But, for today, this is my multi-scoop alternative to plain vanilla.
Be sure to check back with 3Geeks and a Law Blog. They're planning to publish today the list of all the recommended blog posts. I'm looking forward to reading them.
[photo courtesy of ulterior epicure under a Creative Commons license]
December 18, 2008
With the advent of social media, teetotalers and imbibers alike now have multiple opportunities to converse online without editing themselves. In case you have blindly assumed that it doesn't really matter how you behave online, you should know that lawyers are now beginning to think about the e-discovery implications of Twitter.
To be fair, if you've ever thought that your activities via social media are entirely private, you've been deluding yourself. Google owns your personal archive. Facebook knows who you know. And millions of folks like you are surfing in and out of your online life. Now more than ever, you need to manage your web presence like Hollywood agents manage movie stars. You no longer can limit your image to the four corners of your resume. Now, every time you hit the Web you add to the world's understanding of who you are. And your digital profile can be powerful -- particularly when it doesn't square with your resume. Be aware and be careful.
[photo courtesy of Rob Bieber under a Creative Commons License]
December 17, 2008
That said, I know folks are always looking for the silver bullet, the one sure-fire way of achieving success. Putting to one side the fact that I don't know how you define success, let me make a suggestion: Go where the conversation is. In the brief time I've been using social media tools, I've been struck by how well they facilitate conversations that cut across status, age and geography. Above all, I've been impressed by the richness of those conversations. But don't be fooled by the fact that they can be brief, casual and, on occasion, banal. The reality is that these online conversations build relationships, and those relationships enrich your life. In fact, they can even be profitable in your professional life.
There was a time when the critical business conversations happened on the golf course or in particular private clubs. Increasingly, they are happening online. So if you want to participate, find a social media tool that works for you** and then use it to go where the conversation is.
[*When I first saw the blog title, "Do You Know Where You're Going To?" I thought Mark was joining me in my series of blog posts based on popular songs. Unfortunately, it was not the case. However, for those of you who don't mind a trip down memory lane, here's the song I had in mind.]
[**And, for those of you who have read this far, here's a small bit of advice: try using Twitter for three weeks and then let me know what you think. There are great conversations to be enjoyed there. If you wish, you can find me on Twitter using the tag @VMaryAbraham.]