Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Spy: A Secret of Process Mapping, Leading Lawyers, or Leading Pregnant Women

Spy: noun
2. a person who keeps close and secret watch on the actions and words of another or others.
3. a person who seeks to obtain confidential information about the activities, plans, methods, etc., of an organization or person, especially one who is employed for this purpose by a competitor: an industrial spy. 

verb (used without object)
5. to observe secretively or furtively with hostile intent (often followed by on or upon ).
7. to be on the lookout; keep watch.
8. to search for or examine something closely or carefully.

In the competitive business setting, some managers and leaders watch their competitors VERY closely.  They use benchmarks of their competitors to assess their own progress.  They develop products along the same line and at the same time as their competitors.  These leaders "spy" on their competitors.  Then there are leaders that watch other industries.  Those are the successful ones.  (Please go read "Blue Ocean Strategy" if you are in business, want to be in business, or are failing at business).  These leaders spy on other industries as definitions 2, 7, and 8.

A process mapping story that made its way around business schools all over recounts a British hospital that had a severe need for a change.  It had high mortality rates and communication between team members in surgery was poor. 

The solution? Staff doctors visited and viewed the Ferrari pit crew.  After all, the pit crew can change all 4 tires and fuel the car in 7 seconds. 
The Ferrari pit crew got to see a video tape of the hospital's surgery handover.  The review brought drastic suggestions and subsequently, changes.  Efficient changes.  Life-saving changes.  Now the handover is quick, everyone has a specific purpose, and the choreography is precise. For the story go here.
Here's a story that hasn't gotten around to ANY business schools: I'm chairing the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association's (KCMBA) Business Litigation Committee.  We're really attempting to ramp up participation, membership, and offer valuable things to our members this year.  One of the problems is getting a lot of good feedback.  Typically attorneys  are so loaded down it's hard to get them to really take the time to provide valuable feedback.
Enter a group of pregnant woman and new mothers.  Saundra, my wife, is pregnant with twins.  We went to the Greater Metropolitan Kansas City Mothers of Twins Club (GMKCMOTC) so Saundra and I can find others that are in similar situations as we are. 
At the meeting, the leaders wanted to get a start on planning the year's events.  The women got paper and pens and shared why they are a part of the group and what they expect from membership.  A group of touchy, feely mothers came up with a year's plan through a ten minute exercise.
Well, so did the KCMBA Business Litigation Committee . . . Each attorney got a note pad and wrote those exact answers to their membership in the business litigation committee.  Now we know what they will participate in and what they value.  Our offerings will be precise and valued. 
Get your eyes out of your industry and watch another.  When you bring it to your industry, it'll be creative and innovative.  And chances are it'll be successful.
"I spy with my little eye . . ."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Standing Empty Handed or Stooping Muddy Handed

You get an email from a client that has been the bane of your law practice.  Not only has the client been hard to work with and hasn't paid their bills, they haven't even followed your legal advice!  And now they are telling you that they could have gotten the settlement themselves! The gall of some people.  So you're gonna set them straight once for all! You're gonna let them have it! You're gonna use your full education in law school and practice to unleash a precise, eloquent, harshly worded email that will give them "what fo'."  WAIT! DON'T DO IT! inner peace . . . inner peace . . . in- in- in- in- inner peace . . .


A few weeks ago I wrote about being a friendly opposing counsel and being easy to work with.  I believe that will make you a more effective attorney.  This time around we're gonna talk about dealing with ANYBODY.

Let's talk about sending that email to a client.  What is the REAL reason you want to do that?  For me, the brass tacks of it is that I'm upset and what to prove the client wrong.  I want to show them the error of their ways.  Realistically, I won't even accomplish that! The person, whether it be client, mother, sister, friend, enemy, cashier, or person driving next to you, will not LEARN what lesson you're trying to teach them!  You know what will happen? I'll guarantee you they will still think they're right, you're wrong, and then they'll tell someone about it!

DON'T TAKE THAT RISK!  Attorneys, like other professions, succeed largely on their reputations! That means we can't afford to act like idiots and still expect the legal community and social community to think we're worth paying.  Even if you're nothing close to an attorney, I don't think you can afford to risk people thinking bad of you.  Like Ravi Zacharias says, "When you sling mud, not only do you get your hands dirty, you lose a lot of ground."  So don't stoop that low . . . to pick up mud. 

Don't get dirty or lose ground. Chances are, there are much nicer ways to say what needs to be said.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Backwards Leadership

Social media is a great resource for sharing information.  Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+ have all been great ways to reach out to others to learn from them, to understand them, and to build relationships with them.  But social media is also a great risk for gathering good information.  When your options are almost unlimited your choices must be precise.  Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Incorrect practices makes incorrect habits.

I have seen an interesting thing in the last two years we've been using Twitter,, and Facebook.  EVERYONE is a leadership guru (which is interesting that I'm complaining about that as I write about leadership . . . ).  Many "leaders" share how to be a great leader through 140 characters.  Many "leaders" guide their followers on how to better oneself by being a great leader.  If there are so many great leaders out there, why are our social cultures so screwy?  Selfishness.

If you listen to proven leaders, they constantly remind us that leadership is selfless!  That leadership's purpose is for others.  That leadership can only be shown through adding value to others.  One thing I see is that many people want to be leaders for the wrong reasons.  They want to be leaders for the sake of telling others, "I lead this group," or "I have 55,000 followers on twitter," or some other reason that points back to themselves. 

The leaders that have been documented as leaders through history were leaders for a reason outside themselves.  Martin Luther King, Jr.; George Washington; Coach John Wooden.  They all led to change society, the country, or just a group of young men that needed a mentor.  They didn't need accolades, or "followers."  They sought change in other individuals and that change occurred. 

So, how to we everyday people that aren't King David or Saint Francis of Assisi lead to impact change?  By Leading Backwards.  If we are to be leaders, we must do so for the aid and success of others.  If we are to make others successful, then we must know and understand what will make them successful.  If we are to know what others need for success, we must know who they are.  If we are to know who they are, we must listen.  To be an effective leader, we must listen to others and then add value to them.

Remember, leadership is selfless (puts others first) and followership is selfishness (puts self first).