Scientists thrive on experiments, carefully designed and thoughtfully construed. Few general counsel, perhaps none, deliberately experiment with a management method and try to learn from the outcome. Some of them try all sorts of things but they don’t set up control groups, gather data over time, reduce variables, and adhere to experimental methodology. Having mentioned the desirability of testing the effectiveness of different courses of action deliberately (See my post of March 25, 2008: randomized tests and experiments by law departments.), I should suggest some.
What if you stopped holding staff meetings for a quarter, and then quizzed your direct reports as to what they feel about cessation of the meetings? What if you experimented with office hours, where anyone could sign up to spend 15 minutes with you on any topic? What if you tried out incentives to get people to contribute to knowledge bases? What if you randomly assigned cases to a trio of a partner, associate and paralegal? John Brockman, Ed., This Will Make You Smarter (Harper Collins 2012) at 25, got me thinking about this. All managers should try semi-formal experiments.