“Information technology … is a misnomer” or seriously under-inclusive

“The biggest impact of technology is not on information management, it’s on people management, it’s on relationship management, it’s on process management, it’s on systems management” (emphasis in original).

The speaker is Michael Schrage, of the MIT Center for Digital Business, in an interview by MIT Sloan Mgt. Rev., Spring 2010 at 58. He passionately argues that software should be a tool to create value and as such it should reinforce all of the complementary “managements.”

His statement set me to thinking about the relationships and systems that general counsel need to nurture. If we view a legal department as a web of relationships, internal and external, we develop certain corollaries. For example, the frequency and quality of communications become more important. The strength and number of connections between people counts for much. Longevity and familiarity facilitate actions and decisions (See my post of Nov. 6, 2006: organizational network analysis; March 9, 2007 #3: organizational network analysis; Jan. 25, 2009: value of speaking to a person over querying a database; and Jan. 25, 2009: decision analysis and network analysis.).

Similarly, if we take a systems view of a legal department it is a wider perspective than a focus on processes (See my post of Sept. 22, 2005: system dynamics; Aug. 28, 2005: systems theory uses models; and May 19, 2006 #1: all law department activities viewed as information flows, processes, or systems.). Legal departments, and the information flows within them, exist in a context that is much broader, a system.

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