Various ways to get lost with law-department process maps

Continuing my series on the pitfalls of popular management tools, I offer some for process maps (See my post of Aug. 28, 2005: some criticisms; Aug. 6, 2010: components of process improvement; Sept. 22, 2010: compared to procedure guides; Nov. 19, 2010: contrary to a Romantic view of management; March 14, 2011: can lead observers to feel legal practice is too rote; May 31, 2011: EBay and process maps by procurement; and June 9, 2011: one Six Sigma tools.).

 

Pick trivial processes that no one really cares about or will make no material difference to the effectiveness of the law department.

 

Ladle on lots of description, but no prescription.  Spend hours saying what happens but not even minutes suggesting what should happen differently and better.

 

Become obsessed with the software’s treasures for creating, revising and polishing the format of the process maps rather than their content or effectiveness.  Some people become addicted to PowerPoint’s clever formats and tricks but fail to think about how to make the slides useful.  So too, the packages that create clever shapes and fancy arrows can steal you away from insights.

 

Ignore metrics so that elapsed time, numbers of events, counts of output, handoff totals, and the like are absent.  Without metrics, maps are much less useful.

 

Let them collect dust afterwards.  A feckless process map, one that doesn’t reflect real life and guide people in what to do was not worth doing.  But a well-thought out process map that disappears into a drawer brings no value either.

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