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The Lean Law Firm

 Maximizing value and minimizing waste...one blog at a time.

Wednesday
Mar292017

Rocky Mountain High - Operational Excellence in Denver

On April 4, 2017, we’ll be speaking about operational excellence at the ALA’s annual conference in Denver. 

The timing of our talk couldn’t be better. With demand for legal services remaining low or flat, more and more firms are looking for ways to remain profitable. As the recent Citi/Hildebrandt Client Advisory said,

the market will reward law firms who focus on operational efficiency in its broadest sense — not just managing expenses, but transforming the way they run their firms and deliver legal services (my emphasis).

How are they transforming the way they run their firms? By improving efficiency across their organizations. By getting the right people doing the right jobs, with the right tools, at the right time.

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Thursday
Jul282016

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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Tuesday
Jul122016

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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Thursday
Jul072016

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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Monday
Jun202016

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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