Rees Morrison’s Morsels #98 – additions to earlier posts or brief comments

Morphology. The basic idea is that if you understand the underlying parts of a system (the system’s sub-functions), you will better understand the entire system. Law departments are systems, but it is not clear what are their morphological components (See my post of Sept. 22, 2005: that discipline of systems thinking.).

Value Stream Maps. According to David Silverstein, Philip Samuel, and Neil DeCarlo, The Innovator’s Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth (Wiley 2009) at 280, process maps are basic flowcharts. “Value Stream Maps” go further as they also “depict the progression of steps, decisions, and handoffs” but additionally “they add a level of sophistication related to time and the identification of value-added versus non-value-added activity” (See my post of Aug. 28, 2005: process maps have lost their way; Jan.10, 2008 #3: maps of document reviews in litigation; Feb. 16, 2008: process maps to explain choices to clients; Nov. 22, 2008: Becton-Dickinson mapped contract processes; Jan. 25, 2009: a map of decision-making processes; and Jan. 25, 2009: process mapping combined with network analysis techniques.).

Takt time for contracts. “Takt time,” states the maximum time allowed to produce a product in order to meet demand. It is derived from the German word Taktzeit which translates to cycle time, with “takt” the German word for the baton of an orchestra conductor. Perhaps law departments should consider how to produce in Takt Time with optimal staffing. More can be found on the website of Strategos.

The E/R/A approach of the “Creative Challenge”. A book full of creativity tools describes a technique where you start with the status quo and then “challenge the reigning beliefs, assumptions, and limitations relative to the status quo to create a list of innovative ideas.” As summarized in David Silverstein, Philip Samuel, and Neil DeCarlo, The Innovator’s Toolkit: 50+ Techniques for Predictable and Sustainable Organic Growth (Wiley 2009) at 111, this technique could help general counsel treat some sacred cows like hamburger.

Even before DuPont, there was convergence. Zoë Baird, “A client’s experience with implenting value billing,” Judicature, Vol. 77, Jan.-Feb. 1994 at 199, explained 15 years ago how her law department at Aetna “provided volume commitments to a few law firms in exchange for hourly rate discounts.” I found this bit of history in a white paper entitled “eLawforum: Transforming Legal Services.”

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