While I was going through law school, I worked a side job for the university as a mainframe programmer/analyst. It was a fun job, and I worked with some extremely intelligent people. One of my co-workers used to have a saying that he used all the time whenever we’d decide that we needed to “create a program” to make some task easier for our customers:

Making it is easy… making it easy on the other hand, is really hard to do.

This saying has stuck in my head for nearly twenty years now, and it is just as true today as it was when he first said it. We can easily make things to use in our day-to-day work, but if the things we make aren’t easy to use… then you might as well not make it in the first place.

The basis for an idea like this is that you are supposed to be “customer-focused”, and that anything you develop, whether that is a program, an interface, or work-flow process, you have to develop it from the customers’ perspective. In my world today, that means I have to evaluate what I develop from the eyes of the lawyers that will have to use it. Unfortunately, I have to add one more caveat to this saying:

… and those that will benefit the most from what you make, won’t make it easy for you.

Just think of the example of how attorneys really get frustrated when it takes them a long time to get specific work accomplished for a client. However, when you come in and explain to them that you can develop resources, work-flows, and templates for them that will make it easier on them the next time they have to do this type of work, one of the most common reactions is that they are too busy to waste time on those types of (“I can’t bill my time to the client?”) projects.

That’s quite a paradox to battle in your quest to “make it easy.” It’s the battle that most Knowledge Management and Legal Project Management leaders face everyday. I guess we can all take solace in another phrase we all might use from time to time:

If it were easy… then I really wouldn’t be needed to lead this project. 

After all, it’s the challenges that make what we do exciting.

  • Nate Russell

    The parable of the woodsman comes to mind, who works so hard and gets so tired on account of his dull saw but then complains he has neither the time nor energy left to sharpen it.