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    Learning to Lead from Your Inner Executive
    Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

    ♫ Ah, there’s an elephant standing in the room
    Ah, though we’re all alone
    It’s not just me and you…♫

    Lyrics and music by E.A. Morillo, H. Romero, J. Nunez, J. Wilkinson, B.M. Burton, recorded by Alexandra Burke.

    elephant

     

    This is another guest post from Beth Flynn at the Ohio State University Leadership Center.

    All of us have these two parts within – the wise and intentional inner executive and the unconscious inner elephant, which does a good job for us most of the time. The friction between inner executive and inner elephant occurs when they have different ideas about desired behavior. The inner elephant is concerned about its own needs and comforts, and is often stronger than the inner executive. The inner executive can see the bigger picture even if it has not learned how to guide and control the elephant.

    For a leader, the ideal situation is for the inner elephant to work as the servant, the inner executive to work as master. Of course everyone faces situations where the inner elephant’s urges seem far stronger than the inner executive’s good intentions. This is like the inmates having more influence than the warden. Managers who do not have a well-developed inner executive will not lead themselves consciously and intentionally, just as a company without a CEO and executive team will not have an intended strategy or the capability to coordinate disparate departments for strategy execution.

    When in its proper role, the inner elephant thrives as a follower, not a leader. Ideally, leaders will understand their own elephant, and will be conscious of its habits and needs. When a person is “unconscious,” however, he or she tends to live at the mercy of the inner elephant, following its needs and impulses without concerns for others or a bigger picture. When “conscious,” a leader can be intentional about doing the right thing (p. 11-12).

    From: Daft, R. L., (2010). The executive and the elephant: a leader’s guide for building inner excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Ohio Leadership Center Updates:  OLC now has a blog so the discussion about Leadership Moments can continue.

    WANT TO DISCUSS TODAY’S LEADERSHIP MOMENT?

    Go to OLC’s  blog and share your thoughts, ideas, or answer the questions below:

    When have you used your inner executive to see the bigger picture?
    How can you become “conscious” about doing the right thing?

    Thanks Beth and her team for continuing to foster the development of leaders and helping us understand our inner elephant!

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Must See: Helen Lawrence at The Stanley
    Friday, April 11th, 2014

    ♫ These days go by
    And they’re gone before you know it
    So come on, open your window
    Let the light shine in
    This is life don’t miss it…♫

    Lyrics, Music and recorded by Francesca Battistelli.

    helen lawrence

     

    It is not too often that I get to write about technology and theatre.  However, to every rule there is an exception.   And this is an exceptional exception.

    Helen Lawrence is playing at The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver  until April 13, 2014.  This is a world premier. If you haven’t already seen it – I urge you to take a moment and head off to one of the remaining shows.  It will be gone before you know it.

    The writeup for the presentation is as follows:

    “World premiere Acclaimed visual artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Boardwalk Empire) bring you an intoxicating mixed-media spectacle set in the Vancouver of 1948. Visit the vanished worlds of the old Hotel Vancouver and Hogan’s Alley—the city’s hot spot for gambling and vice.Helen Lawrence is an intriguing, hard-boiled tale of loyalty and money that illuminates our city’s politics during a time of historic upheaval.”

    It is stunning in its use of visual effects. The acting is simply outstanding – it is crisp, exact and precise. The tone is perfect. The use of visual angles to great effect only accentuate the story.

    In a word I loved it. I don’t want to say more as I don’t wish to be a spoiler.  But this is a show not to be missed.  Bravo!!!

    Posted in personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Going Paperless – Techshow Style
    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

    ♫  There’s a bridge
    I don’t know how to cross yet
    I need your hand
    To hold along the way..♫

    Music and lyrics by: Tozer, Faye/lauper, Cyndi/pilsford, Jan/irn, Jasper, recorded by Steps.

    scansnap ix1500

    Since I am just recently back from ABA Techshow in Chicago which was held last week, I thought this blog post could be an amalgam of the sessions that touched on going paperless that I saw as well as the management issues that were raised in these sessions.

    To start, there are “Three Key Steps to Paperless Success.” These are:

    1. Everything gets scanned
    2. You need protocols in place to make sure it gets done
    3. You (and everyone else) has to make time to do it

    If you don’t scan everything, nothing else matters as the systems then start to break down.

    There are three Scanning Methods that you can adopt:

    1. Centralized Scanning:  This is suitable for large firms. Here you have one person or a team dedicated to the task, using large capacity scanners
    2. Distributed Scanning:  This is suitable for smaller firms, where everyone scans their own documents.  Here you have staff that have multiple roles, including scanning. The King of Scanners for this method of scanning: The Fujitsu ScanSnap.
    3. Hybrid Scanning: This method is suitable for medium to larger firms.  Here work groups scan their own documents, using a variety of scanners.  Staff have greater familiarity with the types of documents being scanned as compared to Centralized Scanning.

    Regarding  the management process behind the decision to go paperless, the suggestions were: (more…)

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Wake up and Live Now!
    Thursday, March 20th, 2014

    ♫ Wake up and live, y’all!
    (Wake up and live) Wake up and live now!
    You see, one – one cocoa full a basket,
    Whey they use you live big today: tomorrow you buried in-a casket…

    Lyrics and music by Bob Marley, Anthony Davis, recorded by Bob Marley and The Wailers.

    palm tree 2

    This post is being written up in Whistler BC while on a spring-break ski trip.  Garry sent me an email that he will be off to Jamaica this week to lie under a palm tree.  Whether it be snow or sand that calls to you, the important thing is to heed that call and take the break from your routine and live big today!

    The WebMD says:

    Get away — often.  It’s a fact: People who take vacations have lower stress and a less risk of heart disease — not to mention a better outlook on life and more motivation to achieve goals.

    Need more motivation? Psychology Today in an article entitled “The importance of vacations to our physical and mental health” says:

    Chronic stress takes its toll in part on our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury. When you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more likely to have an accident. Your sleep will suffer, you won’t digest your food as well, and even the genetic material in the cells of your body may start to become altered in a bad way. Mentally, not only do you become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you’ll make poorer decisions. You’ll also be less fun to be with, causing you to become more isolated, lonely, and depressed.

    So there are multiple reasons for taking that break!

    Psychology Today goes even further:

    In a 2009 study, Canadian researchers Joudrey and Wallace reported that “active” leisure pursuits (such as golf!) and taking vacations helped to buffer or ameliorate the job stress among a sample of almost 900 lawyers.

    Advantage Behavioural Healthcare says in regards to vacations:

    Relationships are enriched

    Spending time together enriches a marriage, which strengthens the family foundation. Through traditions and rituals, such as vacations, any relationship can be enriched. Vacations and other traditions make memories and are the glue that binds us. Vacation can provide an opportunity to talk with one another, learn new skills or discover new interests.

    It is not just the taking of the vacation that has benefits. The WebMD goes further:

    Even better, the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation. You can feel the effects up to 8 weeks prior to your trip. And when you’re done with that retreat, start planning the next one. Simply having something to look forward to can be rewarding.

    I can hardly wait to start planning the next ski break!  Wake up and live now!

    (concurrently posted to slawtips.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Management, IT and Law Firms
    Thursday, March 6th, 2014

    ♫  Doin it right, doin it right
    Doin it right, doin it right
    The blues bands cookin and the drummers burnin down
    Doin it right on the wrong side of town!!!  

    Lyrics, music and recorded by the Powder Blues.

     

    fail2

    Law firms like to think that they do things rather well.  Exceptionally well, as a matter of fact. Particularly the biggest ones.

    Only problem is, not everyone agrees with that perception.  Take Casey Flaherty for example.  Casey just happens to be the General Counsel at Kia Motors America.  In his words (and this is an exact quote) “Lawyers see themselves as Tom Cruise but most of their work is drudgery.. and they suck at using computers.”

    His proof?  He gave a mock assignment to lawyers that he knew should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete. When tested the average time to compete the assignment was 5 hours  and some took as long as 8 hours.

    He has devised a technology audit that he gives to firms before he engages them to test their technology competence.  We are not talking sophisticated legal tools here. Casey is testing knowledge and use of basic Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat.

    From the ABA Journal article by Casey Flaherty himself, he stated:

    Sample tasks include:

    (a) formatting a motion in Word,

    (b) preparing motion exhibits in PDF, and

    (c) creating an arbitration exhibit index in Excel.

    The specific tasks, however, are of little importance as they are designed to test general skills. The foregoing examples could just as easily be:

    (a) formatting a contract in Word,

    (b) Bates stamping a document production of PDFs, or

    (c) isolating pertinent performance data in Excel—or, really, any of the other myriad, routine, low-value-added tasks that lawyers regularly complete on their computers (or should).

    He has given the audit 10 times.  All firms failed…some spectacularly.  Both the median and mean was 5 hours.

    What does he have to say about the audit results?

    My claims are much broader: a lot (of waste exists in the legal system) and enough (of that waste is attributable to technological incompetence to make this a problem worth addressing)

    The real issue is that law firms (and particularly the largest ones) have absolutely no incentive to have their lawyers increase their technological knowledge.  So long as they bill by the billable hour –  meaning there are no competitive pressures forcing them to acquire greater skills, this situation will exist.  The greater hours put into a file translate to a bigger bottom line.

    There is something very very fundamentally wrong here. No other business or profession has been allowed to languish on the borders of technological incompetence and still be in business.  Most if not all other business would have been driven out of business by failing to meet mounting competitive pressures.

    Is there a correlation here with Access to Justice?  The middle class have been claiming that lawyers are far too expensive and out of reach for their typical legal problems for some time now.

    I wonder just how long the public will stand by before they start to call for fundamental changes to the legal system in order to bring about the changes that they desire.  My co-author for this column, Garry Wise of Toronto, in reviewing this article stated that:

    But in fairness to Canadian lawyers, in part, without paperless courts and automated systems for court and other filings, there is even less incentive for us to master the skills that would be necessary to put electronic documents together.  Our system simply doesn’t require that we prepare or know how to complete effective “non-papyrus” documents.

    I agree with Gary ..the solution is not piece-meal.  We have to address the entire workflow of how we produce, serve, file, share, store, search, and archive legal documents. I was presenting at a CBA Immigration conference in Vancouver last week and my co-presenter Laura Best a lawyer at Embarkation Law Group asked the attendees how many people in attendance filed electronically in federal court.  Only a handful of hands went up indicating that even where e-filing is possible, lawyers are not getting on the bandwagon (Laura happens to be one of the biggest users of e-filing here in BC, I understand).

    This is a knowledge management issue, it is a management issue, it is an issue where all the players in the room have to come to the table to brainstorm on how to change not only behaviours but the system itself to encourage lawyers to bring about the necessary change.

    The call to arms here for lawyers, law firms and regulators is to prod, push, cajole and otherwise mandate greater change before this change is thrust upon us.  We have to become students of change and move with the technological times. Management of firms should not stand by and simply be satisfied with the status quo.  They should be bringing in IT training (complete with tests and assignments) to ensure that their lawyers are up to speed on at least basic technological tasks.  There are no lack of trainers and programs, both in house and available thru consultants for this to occur. Furthermore, court administration, judges and tribunals should be right on-side and equally looking at how their systems can be improved to increase efficiencies and effectiveness.

    Perhaps another message for general counsel like Casey Flaherty is to look for smaller firms that could do it right…even if they come from the wrong side of town….

    This article is concurrently posted here and on slaw tips.ca.

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
    Emotional Wake and Changing the Focus
    Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

    ♫  I’ll be your savior, steadfast and true
    I’ll come to your emotional rescue
    I’ll come to your emotional rescue..♫

    Lyrics and music by  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recorded by The Rolling Stones.

    joy

    This is another guest post from Beth Flynn at The Leadership Center at the Ohio State University.

    Leadership is one quality that we so need in all walks of life, from the International scene all the way down to the local community level.  Leaders are people who make demonstrable changes in others lives.  The don’t accept the status quo and look for ways to do things better.  I believe that lawyers need to develop greater leadership skills to bring the legal profession into the 21st century and have it flourish in the face of incredible change and challenges.  I have been a fan of Beth and the work of her colleagues at the Leadership Center for some time and encourage readers to subscribe to their newsletter (below) and if you are close to Ohio, to attend their leadership Series Workshops.

    This post is taken from the book: Hayashi, S.K. (2011). Conversations for change: 12 ways to say it right when it matters most. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    An “emotional wake” is the feeling we leave people with. When we leave a meeting, are team members consistently feeling angry because they were not heard? Or are they feeling hopeful about what the team is working on? The predominant emotion we leave people with is our emotional wake.

    Can you think of someone who creates a positive emotional wake? I bet someone comes to mind immediately. Being around that person feels good. Consciously or unconsciously, this person decided to be solution focused instead of problem focused in the face of change. Doing this creates respect for self and others (p. 12).

    Conversations for Change is available from the lending library at The Ohio State University Leadership Center. Follow the link to borrow this book or any other resource. Once you are on their  website, click on the Spectrum icon.

    Learn how the Ohio State University Leadership Center is inspiring others to take a leadership role that empowers the world at http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu

    To begin receiving Leadership Moments, or to update your information, please click on The Leadership Center’s Join Our Mailing List button.

    Thanks Beth and the rest of the team for bringing us along and leaving a positive emotional wake!

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Hacker’s Guide to Being More Productive
    Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

    ♫ more productive
    comfortable
    not drinking too much
    regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)
    getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
    at ease
    eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)
    a patient better driver…♫

    Lyrics and Music by: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway, recorded by Radiohead.

    sherlock holmes

    I don’t know about you, but I have been largely disillusioned by the ‘traditional’ ways of trying to be more productive. They have come to feel like, well, candy-coated panaceas. And frankly, if they worked, then all of us would be a whole lot more productive. But, at least for most of us,  they don’t. I suspect – if I am any example, that they don’t work for the majority of us because at the heart, we need fresh ways to get more productive than the ‘make up a to-do list’ every morning before you start work..yadda yadda….

    So it was encouraging to read “Six Ideas For a More Productive Work Day” by Kit Hickey, co-founder of Ministry of Supply on CEO.com. Seems she has been trying to figure out how to be more productive, too. Oh and she noticed that her well-being and happiness at the workplace was tied to her productively.

    Her first suggestion? Work out Regularly. This one REALLY resonated with me.  You see, I had some surgery this last November. Awaiting the surgery, I had to curtail my activites by necessity. Before this, for the last 30 years I have been a runner. More particularly, I ran at noon. I was happy and productive. I LOVED running at noon. But waiting for the surgery, I had to revert to the lifestyle of eating my lunch at my desk and working working working …long hours – 12 hours most days with no real workouts or breaks. Could I say my productivity climbed as a result of the long hours? No. Was I happier at my desk? No.

    Kit said that her best ideas came to her when she was running. I totally agree! My columns, papers and articles largely began as ideas on a run. Running made Kit feel more productive and creative. I echo that correlation. It also increased her well-being.

    So the first hacker tip to get more productive at work: is to get away from it. Go for a run (or swim or whatever works for you). Tune up your body and let your mind think freely. I think you will be amazed at how this can change your life.

    Kit’s other suggestions? Take meetings outside of the office. She schedules meetings with exercise classes. Wow.

    Mix it up – don’t just work from your desk in your office. Find out what works for you and give yourself permission to follow those ideas.

    Bring your dog to work. Well, ok, here I would have to say that I don’t have a dog. I am terribly allergic to them. So – Kit – this one is all yours. I can understand what you are trying to do here.

    Evaluate work output, not desk time. Yes Yes Yes! We have been telling lawyers to move away from billable hours as a metric of work for some time. Why ? It is an input metric..”how much time did you put into something”..rather than ..”what did you achieve in that time?”  If you evaluate results (and not just effort) you have moved yourself into a new paradigm. You can adjust your billing as well to bill for results and not effort.

    Her sixth suggestion? Set aside distraction-free blocks for creative work. Again I can’t agree more. Block off your calendar for specific tasks, tell the office ‘no interruptions’ unless it is truly an emergency and give yourself permission to go at the matter at hand.

    She advises that you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. After all, as Sherlock Holmes would say: ”How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” If the ‘traditional’ ways of trying to be more productive are impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

    (cross-posted to www.tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    How to have a Successful Retreat
    Thursday, January 16th, 2014

    ♫  Yeah but I want to
    Walk on the water with you…

    Lyrics and Music by Steven TylerJoe PerryJack Blades, and Tommy Shaw, recorded by Aerosmith.

    retreat

    This is another guest post from my friend and colleague Bob Denney.  So many law firms are facing issues today that I thought his article on how to conduct firm retreats to develop a plan that has ‘buy in’ to tackle these issues would be a timely and useful post.  Having been involved in firm retreats, I know that they are a fine art and require a skilled moderator to lead the discussions and keep everyone on track.  Having a plan and having someone skilled to guide you along it can make the difference between a successful retreat and an outstanding one.

    WALK ON WATER

    Planning and conducting a successful retreat is like walking on water – it’s a lot easier if you know where the rocks are. The best way to find the rocks is to follow certain guidelines. Some of them apply to every retreat, regardless of the firm. Others vary, depending on the purpose of the retreat and the culture and goals of the firm.

    Some of the reasons for holding a retreat:

    • To develop or approve a strategic plan. This is serious business.
    • To discuss a major issue – such as a possible merger or new compensation plan – or to launch a new marketing or business development program. This is also serious business.
    • To discuss the “state of the firm”. This may be serious business.
    • To provide an opportunity for the members of the firm – or all the attorneys – to communicate and socialize together. This is important.
    • Even if there is no serious business, it is wise to hold a retreat annually. It is no coincidence that the firms with strong cultures and good internal communications generally hold an annual retreat.

    Planning the retreat (more…)

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    The Hacker’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions
    Thursday, January 9th, 2014

    ♫ He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
    He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
    And then he’ll settle down, in some quiet little town
    And forget about everything…♫

    Lyrics, Music and recorded by Gerry Rafferty.

    New Years

    New Year’s Resolutions?  Phfft.  Been there, Done That, Got that T-Shirt.

    We all resolve to get fit, lose weight and spend more time out of the office etc etc etc.  Speaking personally I have had my fill of resolutions that are born from the best of intentions but then die a cold hard death on the shoals of life.

    So here goes: The  Hacker’s Guide to New Year Resolutions: How to make real change in your life.

    First step:  Realize that you do things the way that you do because of how you are: the way  you find things enjoyable or appealing or not, the way that you reward yourself for doing certain things and avoid others, the way that you find that you are too tired at the end of the day to get out and head to the gym etc etc etc.  In other words, it is the structure of how you go thru life that determines, to a large part, how you do things (or not, as the case may be).  The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that you set up goals without putting into place the mental supports that would allow you to change.  If you don’t change the structure of how you do things, don’t expect things to change.

    Second Step: Make ONE and ONLY ONE resolution and make it YOUR priority to get ‘er done before the first quarter is over.  Stick it on your monitor.  Put it on the top of your ‘To Do’ list.  Think about it.  Often.  Take small steps towards it every morning *(not every day because that is how you let it slip it down the priority chain  - because at the end of the day you will realize that yes, once again there it is sitting on the To-Do list)*.

    Third Step: Schedule time in your calendar to work on it for 15 mins every Monday to Friday (inclusive).  Rework and restructure your time, your schedule and how you approach life and work to intentionally fit in the time (and the energy) to achieve this one goal.

    Fourth Step: Most of all, hold yourself responsible for making this happen.  You have to change how you work before you can expect other things to change.  So resolve to not only change this ONE thing but also –  resolve to change yourself.  Use this resolution to be the motivation to implement change, starting with you.

    Fifth Step: Once you have achieved this ONE resolution, celebrate it!  Give yourself a reward for getting the job done. Make sure you make yourself feel good about achieving this change (*in yourself*).

    Sixth Step: Resolve to change something else. You don’t need to wait for a special day in the year to keep the changes happening.  You are becoming  - reworking – yourself into a person who can implement change.  Congratulations.  Now get started on your future!

    (originally published on www.slawtips.ca).

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Retiring into a Bright Sadness
    Monday, January 6th, 2014

    ♫ And I know less about you
    my heart loves you so much more
    your my pride in sadness
    your my brightness…

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Charlie Hall.

    (c) 2013 David J. Bilinsky

    (photo ©  2013 David J. Bilinsky)

    I thought I would start out 2014 by posting one of the most moving articles that I have read as of late. This article was originally published in the September 2013 issue of the NW Lawyer, the bar journal for the Washington State Bar Association. It is gratefully reproduced here with the written permission of both the author and the WSBA. All rights reserved. I thank my friend and colleague Jim Calloway (who like Charlie Hall is also from Oklahoma) for drawing this article to my attention.   It is by Daniel Farr, an attorney in our friendly neighbour State of Washington.  It is particularly relevant I believe, since so many baby boomer lawyers will be shortly facing the same issues with which Daniel has faced. Without any further ado, here is Daniel’s story:

    I was tired after 40 years of practicing law. It was time for a new road map: more music with the band, flannel shirts, bike riding, road trips, grandparenting, storytelling, teepee lodging, and embellishing memories with old pals. I wanted to be present with the people I love. Long ago, law practice began to rob me of living completely in the moment — reading to a grandchild; hiking with a son or daughter; sitting on a beach with my wife and friends — always a part of my mind was practicing law. Did we meet the filing deadline? I should have returned that phone call. Do we have enough money in the pot to meet payday? That elderly couple should have received a discount, but I don’t need one more box of overgrown zucchini.

    When the family business is transferred from one generation to the next, it always comes down to this: “Will my kids be okay, Dan?”

    After 40 years of lawyering, it was time to move into what author Richard Rohr calls a “bright sadness.” Life becomes more spacious and our view expands accordingly. Our goal is not to be held in bondage by the tyranny of the moment. Life becomes both bright and sad because we see more clearly as we review our past and look into the future. (more…)

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »