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Don’t try to divine the future, but do prepare your department to cope with the unexpected

Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (Pantheon Books 2008) at 203, urges managers to “focus on the ability to react to events rather than relying on the ability to predict them, on qualities like flexibility, confidence, courage, and perseverance.”

Instead of pouring hours into crafting scenarios of the future and guessing changes, law department managers should build in the capabilities and attitudes that emphasize preparedness and flexibility. The capabilities include cross-training (See my post of Oct. 19, 2008: cross-training and some surrogates.), professional education, sound talent management, and familiarity with resources that allow a department to go with the flow such as law firms, secondments and contract lawyers. The cultural assets include a willingness to change, an inclination to retrospect, and the willingness to tinker with or dramatically alter the status quo.