Not structure but decision-making prowess sets a legal department above the crowd

“Contrary to popular belief, performance is not determined solely by the nature, scale and disposition of resources, important though they may be.” Instead, argues an article by three Bain partners in the Harvard Bus. Rev., June 2010 at 54, it is “the organization’s ability to make and execute key decisions better and faster than competitors.” Don’t reorganize, they conclude, rethink decisions.

The Bain researchers surveyed executives and assessed decision quality (“whether decisions proved to be right more often than not”), decision speed (“whether decisions were made faster or slower than competitors”), decision yield (“how well decisions were translated into action”), and decision effort (“the time, trouble, and expense required for each key decision”).

Law departments, at their core, make decisions. That being the core competency, it is not structure that boosts performance but improved decision-making. From another perspective, information only has value in a law department to the extent it improves decisions. I have accumulated a trove of posts on decisions (See my post of Feb. 16, 2008: decisions with 42 references; March 15, 2009: cognitive traps with 21 references; and June 17, 2009: decision tree software with 6 references.)

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