Readers of the blog know that for the past few weeks, I have been crowd sourcing comments for my KM book that will be published by the ABA in early 2014.  Thanks to all who have commented here and sent me emails with other comments.   Today, I’d like to ask about questions you are seeing in Requests for Proposals (RFPs).  More below image…

skills abilities knowledge smaller letter game Depositphotos_5530365_original

As any rainmaking lawyer or law firm business development professional knows, in recent years, RFP questions about law firm KM capabilities have changed.  While RFPs used to contain softball questions like, “What are your knowledge management resources?”, today the questions are much more specific and harder to fake your way through (“Describe in detail your knowledge management department, including number of members, roles, staff descriptions, and functions.”)

What challenging RFP questions have you seen recently?  Don’t disclose any client names, of course, but I would love to hear some of the questions that you have encountered.

Please either leave a comment to this post, or email me directly (patrickdidomenico at gmail dot com) with your thoughts.  My intention is to include your comments in my book (although I cannot guarantee inclusion, as I do have an editor). You can submit your comments anonymously, if you like.  But I would like to give credit where credit is due.  If you submit a comment and I use it in the book, I will cite you appropriately (unless you don’t want me to).

During some recent speaking engagements, I mentioned how lawyers can benefit from using social media, among them, blogs. Countering one common reason for resistance to blogging–”I don’t have the time”–I pointed out how to use leverage to your advantage.

The idea is simple: turn the work you already do into a blog post. Lawyers do lots of work.  They draft briefs, contracts, opinion letters, etc.  Some even try to develop business by drafting newsletters, presenting pitches, and speaking at bar association functions, trade shows, and the like.

Of course, you can’t just copy and paste a client pitch, opinion letter, or brief into a blog post.  I hope it goes without saying that you shouldn’t disclose confidential or proprietary information in a blog post. You also need to edit the content for your audience.  The bad news is that it will require a little work.  The good news is that unlike the newsletter that just goes out to the people on your mailing list, your blog audience is potentially limited only to those with web access.

You’ll also need to convert your content so that it works for the web.  This means, among other things, that you’ll need to “tighten it up.”  Make your posts short and to the point.  The web is giving us all A.D.D.  If you can’t hook your readers quickly, you’ll lose them fast.  But that is also good news.  It forces you to chop up your otherwise lengthy materials into bite-sized pieces, which in turn, means more blog posts.

You work hard.  Recycle some of that work into blog posts.  I just did.  And I intend to do it more in the near future.

Knowledge Management, Technology & Social Media for Lawyers and Law Firms

The Master

Recently, before a conference I attended, someone said to me, “Oh, I know you hate PowerPoint presentations. So do I. This will be horrible.”

To the contrary, I don’t hate PowerPoint presentations (or Apple Keynote presentations, for that matter). I do feel a bit tortured  when someone misuses PowerPoint to kill an otherwise good and interesting presentation. I’m not alone, of course. So many of us have been subjected to so many bad presentations that some people have sworn off PowerPoint altogether.  But for you presenters out there, my advice is: don’t give up hope.  Just give up the bad practices that make bad PowerPoint presentations.

So here are a few points I think are important.  I certainly won’t cover all there is to know about making presentations.  I’m no expert, but there are some great expert resources out there (see below for a list).

Don’t Read Your Slides

Everyone knows this. Everyone says, “don’t do it.”  Everyone hates when others do it. So why do so many people still do it?   Continue reading »

I’ve always been really impressed with what craftsmen can make when they have the right tools.  My close friend, Mick, of Relyea Custom Cabinetry is one of those people.  As a custom cabinet maker, a big part of what he does all day is cut wood.  He has dozens of saws.  They all cut wood, but they’re not interchangeable: Mick wouldn’t use a band saw when the job calls for a table saw.

Similarly, we “knowledge workers” have lots of communication tools, like email, telephones, blogs, SMS, Twitter, instant messaging, etc.  But for some reason, we often don’t always use the right tool for the job.

Email has its place. Probably the most overused knowledge-worker tool is email.  To some, it’s like a Swiss Army Knife.  Yes, there is a saw folded up in there (it’s right next to the tiny scissors and little wrench), and it may work in a pinch, but it’s not always the best tool for the job.

Email is great.  But let’s not forget its roots: mail.  Email is faster than the USPS, but it’s not faster than a phone call, or SMS.  And more importantly, even though some people check their email every time their BlackBerries buzz, it’s not all that common: most people check their email rather than having it check them.

Time sensitivity is a factor when deciding which of your knowledge-worker tools to use.  If you need an immediate response or reaction, you’d better reach for something other than email.  An actual phone call (remember that tool?) is best because it is a synchchronous interaction: you confirm receipt and understanding of the message (can you hear me now?).  If there is a last-minute time change for an important meeting, email is not going to cut it.  You need to know that the participants got the message.

Email is the default, but not at fault. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which tool to use.  Email is so popular that it has become the default.  This is because people are self-centered (present company not excluded).  Many people think that their emails are read as soon as they click “send,” irrespective of the time of day or night or other circumstances.  In fairness to the self-centered senders, however, we’ve brought this expectation upon ourselves by immediately responding to email at all hours.  (Do you keep your BlackBerry on your nightstand?)

So, how do we tame the tech?  Well, technology is not the problem.  We are the problem.  Email is not evil, but in the wrong hands it can cause havoc.  It is a very effective tool for certain tasks; but it’s just one tool.  And like all tools, we need to learn to use email effectively.  Tim Sanders has a blog that tries to educate people about email usage and etiquette.  Please read it.  Tim Ferriss advocates checking email only a couple of times a day.  That may be impractical for some people, but the alternative–responding to email as if it were a real, live conversation–will send people the wrong message.

After choosing the appropriate tool, Mick would say “measure twice, cut once.”  That’s good advice.  But, many of us are not as good at tool selection as Mick is.  We knowledge workers should back up a step and think twice before even selecting our tool.

Before you send your next email, ask yourself: is it the right tool for the job?  Will it achieve the desired results?  Should you call or wiki instead?  Maybe just walk down the hall and have a good, old-fashioned, face-to-face chat.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

It was only a matter of time before the smart people at LinkedIn, the social business networking site, asked the smart people at Common Craft to help explain and promote their site. Below is Common Craft’s new video, “LinkedIn in Plain English.” And when you go check out LinkedIn, be sure to join the group called Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals. And, of course, who could forget the Facebook group of the same name?

Here are Common Craft’s other Plain English videos I’ve covered.

And be sure to check out Doug Cornelius’ coverage of this story and the very interesting Martindale-Hubbell – LinkedIn integration. Kevin O’Keefe broke the news about Martindale and LinkedIn: read it here.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

This was a fantastic webinar from KMWorld and Google:

Innovation @ Google: A Day In The Life

On March 11, 2008, Naveen Viswanatha, Sales Engineer at Google Enterprise gave a really great presentation. 

My notes from the presentation: 

  • Broad background of Google and Google Enterprise, touting customer base, etc.
  • Internet Evolution – from information to distribution & communitaction to network & platform.
  • Chronology of how Google evolved with the internet – timeline with their many online products.
  • “Innovation is at the core of Google’s competiveness.” 
  • 70-20-10 Rule – i.e. Google splits its business focus: 70% focus on core business (Search, Ads, Apps); 20% on things with strong potential (blogger, Picassa, News, Pack); 10% Wild and Crazy (offline adds, wifi, transit).   
  • How Google hires people – the hiring process is “painfull.” (See Fast Company article: “Our hiring process is legendary”
  • Google has a relatively flat management structure. 
  • Internal tool called “Snippets” (a nag email: what did you work on last week? – what are you working on this week?) – so you can track your work.  AND it is a knowledge-base tool because everyone else can search all other snippets and get information on what they may be working on. 
  • Google Ideas database – post and review ideas within Google – people can comment on and vet out the ideas.  The ideas might turn into an actual project.  [plus, it records the things that are Google's intellectual property] – it uses the “wisdom of the crowds” philosophy.
  • Innovation is a collaborative process at Google -  ”Innovation = Discovery + Collaboration (+ Fun)” 
  • First day at Google is “like drinking from a firehose”
  • Any questions – go to “Moma” – Google’s internal knowledge base - search of their key knowledge areas. 
  • Can look for experts within the company – Google expert search within Moma - lots of an individual’s information is searchable (including resumes, which they encourage people to keep up to date).   
  • Search results within Moma – you can take notes in the search results (of the things that you are searching) – uses Google Docs [I used Google Docs to take notes for this blog post] – and you can publish the notes — it publishes it out to the people you want (they use gMail, chat, Goolge Calendar – can overlay colleague’s calendars on top of your own so that you can schedule meetings, etc.). 
  • Regarding the notes – others can make changes to your notes (which you created in Google Docs) in real time – you can see the changes on your screen. 
  • It’s all about the “…ability to find and leverage collective wisdom of the organization…” 
  • How are experts are established?  Expert databases are hard to keep upto date.  So they leverage the things that people do already: resumes, blogs, wikis, Snippets, Moma, etc.
  • Are these tools avaiable to the public?  Yes and no.  Search is the key enabler to tap into the repositories that are already in use at your organization (touting Google Search Appliance). 

The event is archived: here  

I really encourage people to check this out.  Especially those who are new to KM.  This presentation gave a glimpse into Google as a company and it shows off some great ways that any organization can approach KM. 

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

On February 12, 2008, KMWorld and Vivisimo presented a webcast called Making and Airtight Business Case for Enterprise Search.  The speakers were Jim Murphy of AMR Research and Rebecca Thompson of Vivisimo. 

Murphy discussed: redefining enterprise search, business case challenges, aligning enterprise search with business priorities, and choosing the best approach.  

Not just search, but NSR (navigation, search, and retrieval): Focusing not only on search, Murphy discussed the importance of navigation and how it is used hand in hand with search.  He also cited the importance of the ability of systems to crawl various sources of information and extract it. 

From a business case perspective, both process efficiency and customer loyalty / satisfaction were important to the respondents of his research.  The important business issues within the enterprise were customer service and support, and worker productivity. 

Thompson, of Vivisimo, discussed some case studies in the manufacturing and pharmacuetical industries and for government. 

She focused on increasing employee efficiency through search, enabling collaboration among workers, and giving employees access to the information they need (but don’t necessarily realize that they need). 

Thompson described how Vivisimo’s system can search across all types of data sources, like document management systems, portals (including SharePoint), image documents, file shares and servers, intranets and internet sites.  One of the case studies saw an daily increase in searches from 15 to 2,000.  

There was nice screenshot that showed Vivisimo’s signature clustered results, and a tabbed result list, which gives the user the option to display all results, or grouped results (by people, intranet, internet, the DMS, SharePoint, and the network). 

Finally, there was a discussion of the www.USA.gov website, which is powered by Vivisimo.  The site has noted a decrease in citizen support phone calls. 

The demo will be archived at KMWorld for 90 days.  Check it out here

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Nina Platt at Strategic Librarian has a nice primer on Writing a Business Case.  It’s helpful for librarians and KM folks, too. 

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management for Lawyers and Law Firms

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