11/8/10

Expect the Unexpected

I recently bumped into some old colleagues of mine and we were talking about the changing face of knowledge management and library departments in law firms. We talked about how there really is no one-size-fits-all for these departments; each should evaluate itself in its current space, and assess the best place for it to be in order to bring the most value to its organization. This discussion got me thinking about all the changes that have occurred in just the past five years in the world of law firm business units and business structures -- marketing, library, finance, and IT departments have now morphed into countless variations, with each firm creating, modifying, re-shaping, splitting, and merging departments in increasingly creative ways. Knowledge management, client relations, competitive intelligence, business development, and alternative fee management are just some of the newly named departments, and each firm structures these in its own way: some of these become their own departments, some become merged and re-named departments, some become sub-departments of another department, and some are not formalized departments at all but represented by one or two professionals who report to a related department. The variations are truly endless, but more importantly they are constantly changing. What works for you today may not work for you a year from now. And there's the rub: to be successful and to help make your department successful, you must expect change and evolution. Think of it as versions 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 of your department. As you have more information about what works and what doesn't, what your internal and external clients need and what they really don't, you can refine original 'features' (services), add new and better ones, and generally become a stronger, more effective department. You may not know today what new features you'll be adding in a year or two, but expecting those unexpected changes will ensure you continue to provide the best service you can to those around you.

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