All management expresses values

“All of business is about values, all of the time.” These are the philosophical words of Matthew Stuart, writing in Atlantic Monthly, May 2006 at 87. Running a law department is about values, all the time.

Benchmark figures, for example, are not just descriptions of some aspect of law department reality but rather are prescriptions – how many resources should be devoted in a corporation to legal issues. Surveys of employee morale and programs to increase teamwork and collegiality are not simply factual — how can we best develop our talent? They are moral, as in how much of a worker’s sense of identity and well-being does a law department have a right to harness for its purposes?

Our belief systems – our values – drive us as managers (See my post of May 30, 2006 on culture and one of its components, values.). Values have to do with power. A manager is vested with authority to tell someone else what to do, and even to fire the employee. Values inevitably come to light wherever some person can exercise power. For this reason, managers express values, explicitly or implicitly, as they exercise their power and decide on courses of action. General counsel and others who manage in-house counsel ought to try to understand and test their value sets (See my posts of Feb. 7, 2006 about values and Cox Communications; Dec. 19, 2005 about active inertia; and Nov. 16, 2005 on culture

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