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Knowledge Management and the Simple Stick

9 Jun

by Patrick DiDomenico

People who know me well know that I’m a bit obsessed with simplicity, minimalism, and focus.  For a while, those three words were set as my iPhone screen wallpaper, staring me in the face dozens of times a day.  So, when I learned that Ken Segall, who worked with Steve Jobs on several Apple ad campaigns, published a book called Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple’s Success, of course I bought it.

Insanely Simple digs into the world of simplicity at Apple under Steve Jobs.  It also introduces the concept of the Simple Stick.  “The Simple Stick symbolizes a core value within Apple. Sometimes it’s held up as inspiration; other times it’s wielded like a caveman’s club. In all cases, it’s a reminder of what sets Apple apart from other technology companies and what makes Apple stand out in a complicated world: a deep, almost religious belief in the power of Simplicity.”

The Simple Stick is a concept I’ve begun to adopt in my knowledge management work.  I’ve always sought to distill ideas, thoughts, and work product to their essence, making them “as simple as possible, but no simpler.”  But the idea of the Simple Stick gives me a shorthand (simpler!) way to communicate my desire to do so.   It’s a reminder to me (and to those with whom I work) to not give in to the evils of complexity.  This applies in written communications, as well as user interface / user experience design, of intranet sites.  On a review of a prototype intranet page, for example, I’ll say “hit it with the Simple Stick,” meaning: look for ways to make the interface cleaner, or the method of accessing data more direct and uncomplicated.  While some people have a tendency to clutter up a page with superfluous words or features or other unnecessary stuff, my goal is to keep chipping away until what’s left is both necessary and sufficient.  After all, “perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Simplicity in KM is important for many reasons, not the least of which is time (or the lack thereof).  Busy lawyers have precious little time, and the time they have is best spent on revenue-generating work.  Wasting their time with superfluity affects the bottom line.  One of the cornerstones of KM is to increase efficiency.  Complex design, cluttered ideas, and extra stuff gets in the way and slows us down.  Clean, simple design is faster and clearer.  It empowers people.  It allows them to get things done and move on to the next important task.  It reduces frustration and disharmony.

As Segall writes, “Simplicity needs a champion.”  His book provides readers with the anecdotes, ideas, and motivation to promote that cause.

It Takes a Village To Deliver Effective AFAs

18 Jul

Guest post by Pam Woldow, Partner and General Counsel at Edge International, Inc.

On Wednesday, August 24th, at 9:15 am, you are invited to learn how key players from Finance, IT, Knowledge Management, Business Development, Professional Development, Legal Project Management, Records, and other disciplines can join forces to help their law firms optimize success with AFAs – Alternative Fee Arrangements.

AFAs are hot, and getting hotter. Time-based billing is under attack from clients who judge results on the basis of the value conferred, not the time spent conferring it. Lawyers locked into 1/10-hour billable increments will have to adapt to new ways of charging for legal services or risk being left in the competitive dust.

The AFA “drivers” are clear: tighter client budgets…pressure to curb legal costs…increasing client demands for greater predictability of legal spend. Unfortunately, many firms find themselves in the dark when trying to master all the different kinds of AFAs or to craft AFAs that make clients smile while preserving firm profitability.

It requires a “village” of multi-disciplinary professionals to make the most of AFAs, and ILTA has convened an all-star panel to show you how to create your own AFA village. Three of the top experts in legal information and management, Tom Baldwin (Reed Smith), Toby Brown (Vinson & Elkins) and Pam Woldow (Edge International) will discuss best practices for drawing on the diverse expertise of internal firm experts to craft, implement and manage AFAs.

The focus will be on practical and effective tactics and techniques for tapping essential information and developing practical approaches to creating fee structures that meet both client needs and firm profitability targets.

For more information, visit the official ILTA Conference website page: It Takes a Village to Deliver Effective AFAs or visit the Conference Overview Page, where you can see detailed session agendas and read about the five other Knowledge Management Peer Group track sessions.

Twitter hash tags: #KMPG3 / #ILTA11