Organize it or find it?

Knowledge management in law firms is not immune to change. That’s the good news.

But some of us find it hard to believe that substantive advances in technology, meaning-based computing (or whatever name a given vendor is using), among a number of others, is having a real impact on how KM is, or can be, practiced in the firm. Lawyers and attorneys are also changing their ways. “Consumerization of IT” simply means that they happily embrace the iPad, are comfortable with $4/month Web 2.0 tools (Dropbox, Evernote & Flickr) and some are even showing up to work with a “can do”, or finer still, a “we should do it better”, attitude.

My client, David Hunter, shared an article written by MIT’s research fellow with the Sloan School of Management’s Center for Digital Business, Michael Schrage. The piece is called, “Tips for Getting More Organized: Don’t”. The final two lines read, “Our job today and tomorrow isn’t to organize ourselves better; it’s to get the right technologies that respond to our personal productivity needs. It’s not that we’re becoming too dependent on our technologies to organize us; it’s that we haven’t become dependent enough.“. This idea is still considered an anathema by some. But I’m thinking about Schrage’s advice in the context of how lawyers could better manage their email and electronic files. He quotes IBM’s research which shows, “email users who ‘searched’ rather than set up files and folders for their correspondence typically found what they were looking for faster and with fewer errors”. From my experience I know that this is largely true today. So why fight it?

Long and short: the future, which we all hoped for, is here. Many aspects of our working lives are changing – fast. Finding information and knowledge is a large part of it. If you agree with this, than you must also agree: The future of KM is brighter than ever. So much so that Knowledge Management won’t even be called that any more, it’ll just be how things are done!