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October 2007

Making Things Happen

I am always interested in the question of how things happen.  You know the question behind the question.  If all our best ideas had been executed, we would all be successful beyond our wildest dreams.  Making things happen-execution- is a pretty darn important part of the process of being successful. 

So what is the difference between people with great ideas and peoples whose great ideas realize fruition?  It sounds like a worthy question.  One worth exploring.

The Luck Theory of Making Things Happen.

Even those who have achieved their dreams will sometimes say that there was an element of luck.  They might suggest they were at the right place at the right time.  They might focus on circumstances which gave rise to the key moments of achievement.

Luck is just a word.  It really doesn’t mean anything.  For those who believe in the chaos theory of the universe, luck or arbitrariness provide a ready explanation of how things come to be.  Even at this early juncture of science, we understand that the universe is governed by certain elemental laws.  Obviously, there are many attributes of the universe and physics which we can’t even begin to explain.

If luck were a dominant factor in how things happen, there would be few of any patterns amongst high achievers.  Achievement would be random.  At that point, what is the use in even trying? 

The Hard Work Theory of Making Things Happen.

A good number of people would say that hard work is the key to making things happen.  If you work hard, you will achieve your goals.  There is little doubt that people who work the hardest sometimes achieve their goals.  However, goals are multifaceted and include not only work, finances, the family, friendships, philosophy, health and where I stand at the moment of death.  Putting more hours into family doesn’t necessarily spit out a better family situation.  In most of the people that I truly respect in their achievements balance the various aspects of their life.  I know a lot of rich people who don’t work very hard.  I know a lot of people who became wealthy but worked far less than those who make much less money. 

While I don’t believe that working hard can ever be a negative in and of itself, I don’t think that hard work is the dominate force in making things happen. 

The Karma Theory of How Things Happen

One of the more interesting theories of how and why things happen is wrapped up with the general notion of karma.  Karma doesn’t buy in to the luck theory of arbitrary results.  Instead, people get what they deserve.  They reap what they sow.  People can never escape their prior karma; they can affect their future through good deeds and intentions. 

Karma has never been suggested as an economic theory.  It is hard to know how to judge a particular act within the context of capitalism.  Moreover, karma always requires a judgment about good and bad and thus good karma and bad karma.  If I look at those that are most successful economically, it is hard to imagine that karma played a predominate role.  But those people who are successful across the board implicating both financial and social criteria do seem to have achieved what they intended and irrespective of a value judgment.  Karma falls short of explaining why and how things get done in that it undervalues the ability of man to affect what’s happening around them.

Radio Interview Flashback

I was interviewed by a local radio station yesterday concerning my start-up law firm.  Essentially, it is a weekly series where they feature a local entrepreneur to discuss inspiration, start-up, and financing issues. 

It is interesting thinking back two and half years when our firm was founded.  One of the more interesting aspects of the interview was when I was asked where I found my inspiration to start this unique law firm.  The answer was simple.  I found it in the blogosphere. 

I remember sitting at my old firm thinking about how there must be a better way.  I remember discovering blogs like My Shingle and the [non]-billable hour.  I realized that other attorneys were thinking the exact same thing I was thinking.  I was not crazy. 

As I sensed that there was a trend towards alternative billing, I decided to explore the possibilities of starting my own firm.  The inspiration which I received from other bloggers was clearly instrumental to my decision to jump.

Managing Your Team

I’ve always believed that an extranet is a great way to provide and receive information by and between your client and virtual workers.  But now that we are a three attorney law firm, I am finding that the extranet has become even more important.  The only way for me to check on the status of a matter without having to bother one of the other attorneys is to look in the extranet.  If the most recent conversation, email or document is already uploaded, I can easily get up to speed fast.  If the information isn’t there, I assume there has been no follow-up. 

I’ve always said that scanning documents only works if every document is scanned.  If you’re looking at your file server or searching your stored documents, you need to know that everything is scanned.  Often times, you are looking to see if something’s not there.  If you only scan half of your documents, you can never answer key questions concerning the document’s existence. 

The same holds true for the extranet or any other case management system.  At least fifty-percent of the time, you are relying on the absence of information to tell you something.  The absence of information tells you that nothing has happened in many instances.  That tells you that follow-up is needed or further assignments need to occur.  But it doesn’t work if the information is not there but should be. 

We use digital dictation to update the extranet.  We try hard to ensure that every client contact results in an update to the extranet, whether that contact occurred via email or on the phone.  We are used to sending letters to our clients after each conversation.  It is even more important to let other team members know about internal and external communications concerning a matter. 

The Little Things That Hold Us Up.

It is often the littlest things that keep us from moving forward.  We need an address or a fax number.  We’re waiting for one more document from the client.  We need to know the statute of limitations. 

Often times, the little pieces of information are the ones that cause us to stall out.  One of the great things about our virtual worker model as well as the extranet is that those little things become little tasks.  Those little tasks are handled by workers who actually have the time to find the answers, even when we don’t.  I often say that the practice of law is nothing more than identifying the next three things that have to occur in the case.  Don’t forget that many times those things are small items which are easily addressed. 

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