List–en to lists: a scroll of ruminations on lists

Previously, I collected my posts that have lists of 6, 7, and 8 items (See my post of Aug. 8, 2011: 44 posts with lists of six; Aug. 11, 2011: 34 posts with lists of seven; Aug. 19, 2011: 25 posts with lists of eight.).

Those posts with nine items number 19 in all, starting with the 5 my first three years of blogging (See my post of July 14, 2005: 9 roles of in-house lawyers; Oct. 30, 2005: 9 low-cost morale boosters; May 7, 2006: 9 diversity tools from GE’s legal departments; June 27, 2006: 9 obstacles for a technology project; and March 23, 2007: 9 arguments against offshoring.).

The following three years saw quite a few more niners (See my post of Feb. 6, 2008: 9 ways to improve outside counsel guidelines; Sept. 28, 2008: 9 insights a general counsel might share if invited to speak at a law firm’s partner retreat; Oct. 10, 2008: 9 reasons to ask firms to compete for your assignments; Nov. 21, 2008: 9 tips for dealing with change; Dec. 14, 2008: 9 technologies that enable remote work; Feb. 1, 2009: 9 applications of Web 2.0 for law departments; March 27, 2009: 9 myths held by inside lawyers; March 31, 2009: 9 more manifestations of bad behavior by managers; Oct. 12, 2008: 9 energy-saving ideas; Oct. 22, 2009: 9 reasons why law firms agree to volume discounts; March 16, 2010: 9 good-writing rules for good contract drafting; May 3, 2010: 9 advantages in-house lawyers see in their jobs; Nov. 29, 2010: 9 limits on your ability to change what is negotiated in a contract; and May 19, 2011: 9 propositions about value.).

What might we glean from this counting?

  1. Any catalogue rests on implicit or explicit theories, with biases and blind spots.

  2. Given enough time, determination and wit, one could list an infinity of items. Since there is no end to the explanations for any natural phenomenon (See my post of Feb. 21, 2007: under-determination theory.), a fortiori there is none for ideas.

  3. Mental toughness and flexibility develops with list making. It builds the brain to think of reasons for something or examples of something.

  4. Lists call out for groupings or priorities or stages (See my post of Aug. 10, 2011: maturity models and developmental positions.).

  5. Numbers of items on lists probably show a power law at work: a steady drop off in numbers as the list total grows.

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