Thursday, November 14, 2013

Email Policies - Some Resources

I think a lot about governance in projects I work on: who is going to do what, who is going to oversee it, and how things will be maintained. A big piece of the picture are policies, guidelines and procedures. Without this type of documentation, employees in an organization do not have guidance on how things should function.

In the past, teams would have worked together to learn from each other how things should work; however, we don't typically have the luxury of working with the same two people over many years to have the luxury of leaving everything unwritten. We need to be able to understand how our work fits into the bigger structure of the whole (big?) organization.

The other day I had a great question from a friend:  Did I have any resources for writing an email policy? Where would I start in writing a policy about email retention?

I did my typical look through my go-to resources, and didn't find anything. So, I took a bigger look around. What I found was pretty helpful, so I thought I would post it here for for my own benefit and that of anyone else also looking.

AIIM seems to have some things that might be helpful:
    • Finally, I had this "Email Charter" in my Delicious bookmarks (not from AIIM) which may prove to provide some additional inspiration:
    And related:
    Finally, if you are looking for helpful examples of policies, Google "email model policy". I was going to post some good examples here, but no doubt that is something which will change over time so perhaps best for us to look as needed.

    Do you have any favourite email policy resources? Or tips on what to include in a policy? 

    Friday, August 23, 2013

    Announcing Social Media Engagement Certificate at University of Toronto - On-line Courses Start Sept. 9th

    I have more project news to share:

    I am excited to announce a new Social Media Engagement certificate through the iSchool Institute at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto that Daniel Lee and I will be teaching starting in September!  

    Please check out the details below and on the iSchool Institute website. I encourage you to sign up or pass along this info to anyone you think might be interested.

    The certificate is made up of two 7-week courses taught on-line:

    The courses can be taken individually or can be taken together for a University of Toronto-backed certificate. To obtain the certificate, there is also an assignment (details below). 

    People have been asking us about how the course will be delivered, so I though it would be helpful to explain our vision for this program. Daniel and I have been working hard all summer putting the content together:


    Social Media Planning for Organizations - we will be following a "Social Media Strategy" framework delving into the following aspects:
    • Learning
    • Listening / monitoring
    • Engagement
    • Measurement
    • Development of organizational capabilities
    • Objectives and prioritization
    • Governance - including who will do what as well as establishing policies
    • Defining tools and tactics

    The one-day course we taught in person followed a similar format; however, we have expanded the material and will have time to go more in-depth on each of the topics. 

    Social Media Tools and Tactics - we will be looking at the "ecosystem" of social media, working with popular representative tools, and looking at the tactical side of working with social media. The focus will be on social media for organizations, but welcome discussion about personal use as well. 


    Each course runs over a 7 week period. Each week there will be about 3 hours of work (content and homework), for a total of 21 hours. The courses will be taught primarily from Wikispaces, a wiki platform which we have set up for private discussion. We will have videos to introduce content, there will be readings, homework assignments, and discussion topics for class participants. We will be supplementing these with video conferencing sessions, likely using Google Hangout. Daniel and I are also planning to have online "office hours" to answer questions from participants. For the Social Media Tools and Tactics course, class participants will also be trying out social media tools each week. 

    The plan is for us to alternate the courses so that people can take them in either order. 


    While the courses will largely be done on participants' own time, there will be weekly discussion questions on the wiki and video conferencing sessions. The more someone participates in these activities, the more they will be likely to learn. There will be a lot to discuss! We hope these interactive activities will allow us to explore the specific needs of the group.

    Our goal with the variety of formats, content and engagement with the course will make this course engaging for all adult learning styles. 

    Certification Assignment

    To obtain certification, a participant will need to complete both courses plus successfully complete an assignment. The assignment will have a practical outcome: it will be an initial draft report for a social media pilot project. We know from participants in our past courses that these assignment reports have been useful in getting their organizations started toward a thoughtful, well-planned approach to social media. 

    For more info

    Here are the links you need for more info:

    Questions? Please feel free to email me or the iSchool Institute.

    Please pass this information along to your co-workers, friends and family. We would love to see a good turnout in our first course to get the ball rolling! 

    Sunday, August 18, 2013

    Bringing Knowledge Management Benefits to Smaller Law Firms and Law Departments

    Knowledge Management has been around in larger law firms now for more than 15 years.  Long enough to have evolved, matured, and brought the bigger firms numerous benefits. As these efforts have  touched so many departments inside the individual firms, the idea is also now slowly catching on in other firms and law departments.

    What is Knowledge Management?

    It is one of those amorphous management terms that covers a range of concepts. At the heart of it is sharing the knowledge and work products accumulated by members of an organization so that people are not re-inventing the wheel, and instead building on each others' efforts and learning. 

    This is not a new idea to any law firm. Here are some examples of basic KM at work:
    • individual partners--and sometimes groups of partners--keep a list of template documents such as key agreements at hand so they do not have to figure out new wording each time clients need one
    • lawyers collect research memoranda together on the network so that they can see if something has already been done before starting new work
    • students and associates work with mentors to learn the ropes of the various practice areas
    • members of practice groups meet on a semi-regular basis to share what they are doing either formally or informally so that they can learn from one another and perhaps even coordinate efforts.
    Bring in someone with experience and understanding in this area, and more benefits can be uncovered and developed, such as:
    • more precedent documents can be collected, reviewed, and put into formats for better re-use, with clauses available for the different circumstances
    • agreements can be pulled into templates and automated so that the lawyer or staff member only needs to fill out a quick form to generate a draft of the agreement for review
    • work processes can be streamlined into a more efficient workflows with steps tracked and reminders sent as needed
    • key tips, checklists, explanations and sample documents can be set up to appear as searchers look for certain words or terms on the network
    • key learnings uncovered by senior partners and practice groups can be incorporated into professional development programming for students and associates
    • work can be better tracked so that the law firm has a sense of how long it takes to complete certain pieces of work so they can better estimate the cost to do the work--especially useful if clients are asking for alternative fee arrangements
    • practice groups can be formed and coordinated to attract clients from a new market.
    For an additional list of how KM is manifested in law firms, I encourage you to read Ted Tjaden's 2009 article The 7 Faces of Legal Knowledge Management [pdf] which he has generously shared with us from his Legal Research and Writing website. I would argue that KM has expanded out to encompass additional roles since this article was put together, but it gives a well-rounded view.  

    KM for smaller firms and law departments

    Not so long ago I was getting approached by smaller firms to give an idea of how to bring them benefit of KM. I was disappointed to find the cost of consulting on full strategy, plan and implementation made helping these firms get started prohibitive before even taking into consideration software changes or purchases. 

    I then approached my fellow Knowledge Management consultant Stephanie Barnes of Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting to help put together a more accessible alternative: a KM assessment and coaching service. Stephanie has been helping professional organizations successfully implement KM for more than 20 years, and one of the most passionate leaders I know in this area. I have been very privileged to work with her.  

    We call the new service Law Firm KM --- you can check out our website

    We spent a significant amount of time looking at all aspects of Knowledge Management, and developing a comprehensive set of questions to help firms and corporate counsel determine where they currently sit on a knowledge maturity scale. The questions help them determine priorities, and we then put together a list of manageable next steps. We essentially did the thinking up front so that, after the assessment, firms can jump into the action instead of spending too much time on working through theory and strategy.

    We tested out the concept over a number of months and had favourable feedback. We modified things as we went into each test using the feedback we received, and I am excited to say we have put together a very helpful service. 

    We are now just getting the ball rolling on this initiative. Since Stephanie is currently in demand working on projects across Canada and internationally,  I encourage you to get in touch sooner rather than later if you are interested and would like to schedule some time with us. 

    An assessment takes a day spent with selected members of your firm or department, and we get a report back to you quickly. Coaching for implementing the next steps is optional. The coaching is especially helpful for anyone new to KM who would like some advice on getting started or working through more advanced projects. 

    More about KM

    If you are interested in learning more about Knowledge Management, I encourage you to follow along over on our Law Firm KM blog. I have also put together a list of "must-read" KM blogs.  I encourage you to leave a note if you find the list useful. You are also invited to post your questions in the comments. 

    What about you--can you think of other ways to bring the benefit of Knowledge Management to smaller law firms and corporate law departments? Please share in the comments! 

    Saturday, July 20, 2013

    On Finding Home

    Many people know I recently walked the traditional pilgrimage Camino de Santiago de Compostela (also known as The Way of Saint James) with my colleague and friend Joan. We walked the popular Camino Frances route from St. Jean Pied de Port in France, through the Pyrenees mountains and across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela. We walked about 25 km a day over 6 weeks for a total of 780 kms (about 500 miles).

    One of the many reasons I went was to get away from the online world and to quieten my mind. I spend so much of my usual day in a constant race to keep up with email, writing, blogging and reading, and find these get out of balance with the work I love--client work and volunteer committee work--as well as my personal life. 

    My walking was, for the most part, meditative. I was not seeking specific answers or trying to resolve any great problems in my life. And yet I was surprised to find many answers. I was also surprised by the sense of community we developed along the way--the Camino life was far more social than I had expected, and we made many friends along the way. 

    During one of our dinners the conversation turned to relationships with our parents. One of our dinner companions was a psychoanalyst so this in itself was not surprising. I gained a number of interesting personal insights during our discussion.

    Of them, the most powerful was probably the discussion about the idea of home. I long have had a specific idea of what home is to me--connected with a specific person in my life, as opposed to a city or house. This was likely developed from moving periodically with my nuclear family through the years and not feeling completely connected with a specific place.

    But what I learned during the conversation was that the ideal really is to develop a sense of home within oneself. I like this concept very much--it means I am not reliant on things (I do not like seeing myself attached to things) and it means, while I can connect and rely on other people, I am not reliant on them to make me feel at home or within my comfort zone. I can create that myself wherever I am. 

    While on the road I also happened to read Pico Iyer's book about the Dalai Lama's journey, The Open Road. Is it a coincidence, then, that I came across this TEDTalks video published this week, featuring Pico Iyer discussing the concept of home? 

    I especially like that he talks about standing still and stepping outside of one's life. I feel very much that is what I was doing while walking the Camino. I do not think it a coincidence I found this video--it is just another instance of the Camino at work in the life of a humble pilgrim.

    Saturday, January 12, 2013

    David Weinberger on the Nature of Knowledge: A Viewing Guide

    The following keynote by David Weinberger was presented at KMWorld 2012 conference held November 2012 in Washington, DC.


    Thanks to the folks at Information Today for sharing this video (and the other videos) so that we all have the opportunity to benefit from them.

    About the speaker

    David Weinberger is a fellow and senior researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is also Co-Director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. In and of itself, this is pretty awesome in my estimation.

    I first came to know him as one of the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto which pre-dated the social web. When I first read this I didn't know he had a law and library connection. Since then he has authored some prominent publications as well as numerous articles in popular publications such as The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, The Guardian and Wired.

    Home page:
    Twitter:  @dweinberger
    Google+: David Weinberger

    The Knowledge Hierarchy

    In the video above, Weinberger starts by discussing the class Knowledge Pyramid, known by various names such as the DIKW Hierarchy (for data, information, knowledge, wisdom), the Wisdom Pyramid and others.

    I couldn't find an uncopyrighted image that I liked, so I created one (below). Feel free to steal this:

    Knowledge Hierarchy: data, information, knowledge, wisdom

    Viewing Questions

    Here are some questions to guide your viewing. Answer these based on the thinking David Weinberger  discusses in his keynote talk (the video above):
    1. What are the four traditional properties of knowledge?
    2. Our traditional idea of knowledge and the pyramid of knowledge (knowledge hierarchy) is based on what medium?
    3. What are the properties of the new knowledge networks?
    4. What website from Cornell University Library does he mention used for quickly releasing papers/studies without peer review?
    5. What is distinct about the new networks that we did not have in the past?
    6. What website does he mention that places the names (identifiers) of animals and plants into a range of taxonomies?
    7. What four lessons from science does he identify for knowledge networks?
    8. What two websites does he identify that allo developers to learn from one another?
    9. What three lessons from developers does he identify for knowledge networks?
    10. How does the Internet affect learning?
    11. Have a look at the Library of Congress photostream on Flickr: They initiated The Commons movement to release images no longer under copyright. According to Weinberger, why did the LOC release the photos in the first place?
    12. What does he say are the benefits of "messiness"?
    13. What is an echo chamber? What is the problem with echo chambers?  (Some people in social media call this the "fish bowl")
    14. What is Reddit?
    15. How can we make rooms "smarter"?
    16. Weinberger claims our educational institutions fell over "at the touch of a hyperlink." What does he mean by this?
    17. What are properties of networks/the Internet, that he says are also now properties of knowledge?
    18. What does Weinberger say we all have in common?

    A New Year, a New Attitude

    Hi folks! I hope 2013 is treating you well so far. It has already been quite interesting for me.

     I should mention that 2012 was a bit slow on the consulting side, so I jumped head first into teaching. I became parttime professor at Durham College in their new Legal Research and Information Management program. The first cohort are fantastic, the folks at Durham have been fantastic, and the learning curve has been steep! But, I made it through the first semester teaching the communication course.

     This semester I am teaching the knowledge management and social media course, almost completely online. This course is also an option for DC's Mediation - Alternative Dispute Resolution program. Most of the content will be in a private space, but I may from time to time share some of what I am posting publicly in case you are interested. We are still settling into our platforms, but at some point I hope to share what I decided to use and how it works.

     The next post is a "viewing guide" for a very interesting lecture by David Weinberger. I decided to share this because I was planning on posting the video here anyway, and thought others might find the guilde helpful. I'd love your feedback.

     Happy 2013!