When Projects Go Bad

There is a wonderful old Gary Larson cartoon titled "When potato salad goes bad." It shows a bowl of potato salad in a refrigerator holding up various other foods at gunpoint. Projects don't go bad in quite the same way. But they smell as moldy as month-old potato salad when they do...

Outsourcing: Bad Word or Wrong Word?

(Note: Today's article is a bit off my usual Legal Project Management beat.) Ron Friedmann this morning presents an interesting way to look at outsourcing . His most striking point, I think, is this: Every law firm employee, in fact, works for an outsourcing organization. In-house counsel...

Watson Takes on E-Discovery

By now you've likely seen the NY Times article about computers and e-discovery . For folks in the legal field, the content of the article isn't news, I trust: Computer analysis is making huge inroads in e-discovery and is in many cases replacing attorneys (and their jobs). Think about the...

Risk Aversion and the Princess Bride

Rees Morrison has an interesting post this morning bridling at a vendor comment reported in KM World that "We trust our legal department to be risk-averse and process-oriented...." He takes on the process-oriented trope; I'm more interested in the "risk-averse" side of the...

A Simple Example of Project Management

People have sometimes asked me for a simple definition of project management. The PMI (Project Management Institute) definition pretty much requires you to be a project manager before you can understand it. That's fine; PMI caters to actual and aspiring project managers. In the real world,...

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

The city/county/state is doing a major rebuild of the streets leading to the Interstate exit closest to my house in Seattle. My office is in my home, and when I travel I take another road to the airport, so I get to see the road construction once every week or two. You'd think that at one-...

Par 3s and Project Management

I saw an interesting quote from golfer Phil Mickelson today. If I ask anybody to think of their favorite golf course and favorite hole, it's either a par 3 under 150 yards or a driveable par 4. 1 In other words, people want to succeed. They don't necessarily want success handed to them...

How Dumb Is the Pointy-Haired Boss?

Scott Adams and Dilbert regularly ridicule management, usually represented by the pointy-haired boss, or PHB. Over the many years Adams has been drawing the strip, he's certainly found plenty of targets for ridicule. Many of them have struck home with workers and bosses alike. I thought...

Legal Project Management by another Name

Jay Shepard has an interesting post today at Above the Law where he talks about the need for partners to teach associates to be future partners . He lists seven things a teaching partner should do to strengthen the firm for the future: Be consistent. Share the whole picture. Provide...

Specifications Failure!

Here's a picture of the field from Sunday's Jaguars-Saints football game, from NFL.com: Look at the directional arrows painted on the field next to the yard markers. Compare the arrow on the 10-yard line at the top of the picture with that at the bottom. (They're supposed to point...

Can Project Managers Win by Being Annoying?

Some project managers lead successful projects by working well with the members of their team, their business partners/clients, and so on. Actually, most successful project managers are successful because they know how to work with people. Sometimes, in difficult situations and get-us-out-of-this...

Steve Jobs

I knew the day was coming, and I knew it would come for him sooner than for most of us, it's still a shock to hear of the death of Steve Jobs. Apple was a love-it-or-hate-it company, and within the technology world there are many who fall into the latter camp. Still, even those most frustrated...

The Steve Jobs of Law?

Larry Ribstein has a great short post over at Truth on the Market reflecting on the future of law, titled Waiting for the Steve Jobs of Law . He notes, "Law is waiting for its Steve Jobs (or Bill Gates)." Actually, the computer market needed both Steve and Bill. They goaded each other...

Everyone’s Trying to Get in on the Act

I saw an ad today for a university-sponsored legal project management 1 course for in-house counsel. I checked out the instructors, figuring that a reputable university would of course engage one of the specialists in this area. In this case I assumed it would be one of my colleague-competitors...

Steve Jobs, Teamwork, and Legal Project Management

Jonah Lehrer writes in Wired and The New Yorker about Steve Jobs using architecture to inculcate teamwork when he took over Pixar. He insisted that Pixar's headquarters be designed so that disparate groups of employees were forced to come together for certain functions. He insisted on a large...

What If Clients No Longer Want to Pay for Junior Associates?

The WSJ Law Blog (which has a new editor, by the way) featured an article yesterday on clients' increasing unease with paying for the work of first- and second-year associates . I've seen this change building for some years now, in my work with both clients and firms. It's a trend that...

Making Junior Associates Cost-Effective

Yesterday I noted the issues raised by a WSJ piece on clients looking askance at paying going rates for first- and second-year associates . There are really only three ways to resolve this issue, beyond, of course, extending the status quo: Firms bill out junior associates at lower rates...

The Hobgoblin of Foolish Consistency

(I should have posted this yesterday, when hobgoblins were out and about in the neighborhoods. And the first half wanders far afield before returning to project leadership concepts. You can skip the intro and jump right to that point .) I was working on some slides when I noticed that PowerPoint...

Comparing Your Law Firm (or Department) to Apple

Most people, especially those outside the technology industry 1 , think very highly of Apple. What would your law practice look like if your clients felt that way about you? Some practices already get rave client reviews; these firms are proving to be tough competition. Yet I've heard senior...

A Lesson in Leadership from Aon’s Litigation Counsel

Mark Herrmann, Chief Litigation Counsel for Aon, writes about his first 360 review here . A 360 review is common in many corporations for mid-level and senior managers. An HR consultant (usually) helps you map your self-assessed strengths and weaknesses against those defined by your manager(s)...

Can Lawyers Learn From Best Buy?

Larry Downes in Forbes has an article on the decline and (they presume) fall of Best Buy . Other than the hagiography of Amazon.com, 1 there are some very interesting points in the article. Before you read it, though, consider what you think intuitively is Amazon's core advantage over Best Buy...

Can Lawyers Learn From Best Buy?

Larry Downes in Forbes has an article on the decline and (they presume) fall of Best Buy . Other than the hagiography of Amazon.com, 1 there are some very interesting points in the article. Before you read it, though, consider what you think intuitively is Amazon's core advantage over Best Buy...

Project Leadership and Motivation

What does science know about motivating employees that businesses too often ignore? That's the topic of an 18-minute talk by (nonpracticing) lawyer Dan Pink . He frames it as an argument to the jury of the audience. In this 2009 talk, he describes the science of motivation, which is fairly...

Google's Watching You: The Good, the bad, the ugly

This morning Google announced a change in its privacy policy . I link to the Washington Post article about it because searching Google for "Google Privacy Policy" does not bring up Google's privacy policy as its first result!!! (Okay, it's first if you count the ads... but many of us...

“Data Driven”: In a Car, Is the Driver a Bug… or a Feature?

Driver: Bug or Feature? "The fact that you're still driving is a bug," [Google's Anthony] Levandowski says, "not a feature." I'm sure there'll be the inevitable responses about computer crashes vs. auto crashes, but Levandowski has a point. Read the sentence...