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For any given management initiative, a four-part description

Hard as it may be to identify in a consistent and collectively-agreed upon way the meaning of “management initiatives” (See my post of March 11, 2007 on management initiatives compared to processes.) there is at least some hope that within any particular initiative set, one can describe the variations on a four-part scale: none, some, a fair amount, and progressive. Let’s take knowledge-management to see how the scale might play out.

A department that does nothing in any formal organized way to collect and disseminate knowledge could be described as a “one.” A department might be described as a “two” that has tried a few aspects of knowledge management, such as to install a document management system and push people to use it. Moving up from such a basic level, an intermediate law department warrants a “three,” perhaps because it has studied knowledge management, put in place several programs such as to collect work product from outside counsel and generally values the collection and distribution of legal knowledge.

A sophisticated law department that has invested significantly in an intranet site, appointed a lawyer in charge of knowledge management, enlisted law firms, and taken other progressive steps would earn the highest number on the initiative scale: a “four.”

All this is to say that for any management program in law departments there is a spectrum from laissez faire, to basic, intermediate, and advanced. In the coming years there will be an accepted taxonomy for law departments to place themselves on, perhaps on a scale something like this four-part one, and eventually law departments will be able to benchmark themselves on management undertakings. Even more promising is the prospect of correlating staff and spending metrics to management efforts.

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