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The Lean Law Firm

 Maximizing value and minimizing blog at a time.


Buy-In: When the Managing Partner Gets Out Her Sharpie

© Gimbal Canada Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced. We get asked a lot about mapping software. People look at the paper-intensive way we conduct our mapping projects and think, “couldn’t we do this on a computer?”

The answer is yes. You could do it all on a computer. You could even project your screen live as you map. You’d save paper for sure…but you would lose so much more.

Improvement initiatives live or die based on buy-in. 

Process mapping the old-school way, with paper and stickies, will help you get the buy-in you need. Big maps on large flip-chart sheets allow people to stand back and see, all around them, the way their process actually works. They can move tasks around, re-order things, and add additional steps, issues, or suggestions. 

Seeing the process in one single visual is incredibly powerful. Even if you have the world’s best mapping software, the most people can see on a screen is a few steps at a time. They cannot see the big picture. And without the big picture, you won’t be as successful.

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Kano's Coffee Shop: Improving your Legal Process Improvement

What’s coffee got to do with improvement? Well, thinking about how you deliver a great cup of coffee can help you deliver great process improvements. As Karen wrote in last week's blog, the Improve phase of DMAIC might be fun but it's a phase where teams can get bogged down. They need to move from the negative, “No, we can’t do that because…” mentality towards a more positive, “Yes, we can do that if….”

Teams that adopt the innovator's approach are usually richly rewarded. Their creative juices start flowing, and they generate long lists of ideas for potential improvement. However, the very wealth of ideas can give rise to a second reason teams get bogged down: they can’t possibly implement all of the solutions they’ve come up with.

Kano’s Model helps teams prioritize ideas and solutions that might otherwise compete for limited time and resources.

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DMAIC 4 - Improve: How can you create a better process?

Welcome to the next instalment of our DMAIC series: Improve. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that DMAIC stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control. It’s a structured approach to process improvement that will help you design, execute, and implement successful improvement projects. 

Working through DMAIC starts with identifying what your client wants or needs (Define) and developing a clear picture of your baseline or current state (Measure). You need to see what you actually do. Not what you think you do, or think you should do.

As part of that picture of your current state, you’ll identify the frustrations and wastes that interfere with your ability to deliver what it is the client wants.

From there, you’ll move on to the Analyze phase: What’s causing those problems you’ve identified? Once you understand the root causes of the waste and frustration, you can move on to the Improve phase of DMAIC: How can you create a better process?


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You can only cut once: why process improvement trumps layoffs

I’ve been watching the mad rush to match Cravath’s salary increases with a sense of wonder. The market is (mostly) flat. Demand is (mostly) down. There are still far too many law graduates. It’s not like it’s a seller’s market. 

And then I saw the icing on the cake. Last week, law firms were raising salaries one day, and laying folks off the next. Talk about bad optics. Sure, the savings look tempting, but think about the costs.

You’ll have to pay severance. You may have to pay for outplacement services. But there are hidden costs as well.

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Why pick your solutions before you understand your problems? Introducing Legal's First Performance, Profitability & Innovation Group

This week we announced the creation of the PPI Group: leveraging your legal expertise and our experience to drive performance, profitability, and innovation. 

We've joined forces with the legal industry’s top consultancy, Fireman & Company. We’re bringing together leading experts in pricing, process improvement, knowledge management, legal project management, and data analytics to create the industry’s first ever Performance, Profitability & Innovation practice.

Every law firm and legal department defines performance excellence differently. What they want and need depends on their unique challenges, their people, their culture. Until now, attorneys have had to hire individual consultants with specific expertise. They had to choose their solutions before they understood the root of their problems.

Our PPI Group changes all that. We start with an in-depth understanding of our clients’ needs, and then provide our clients with a flexible, integrated, comprehensive approach to improving legal service delivery. The result is much more than the sum of its parts.

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