We Are Not Running Railroads or Fighting Land Wars

Efficient organization

One of my favorite themes is that 20th Century law firms erred by taking 19th Century business organizations as models for organizing law firms. Rob Austin and Lee Devin’s Artful Making, What Managers Need to Know about How Artists Work (FT Prentice Hall 2003) brought this home for me some time ago. Recently, an article published by CNN/Money, What entrepreneurs can learn from artists  makes parallel points.

I’m saying all these same points  apply to lawyers and to law firms as well as to entrepreneurs. We are more like them.

We are not running railroads, fighting land wars or making socks. Wait! Wait! I know, I know. Neither are today’s transportation companies or armies or hosiery manufacturers any more. We are all knowledge workers now. And, to give them credit, the military were among the first to see this.

Another of my favorites, Nilofer Merchant is making parallel points also, talking about where we all are headed in the future — in 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #Social Era (Harvard Business Review Press 2012).

And, in case I am not being clear: these insights have implications for how law firms are organized and managed.

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