Communication in law firms: the pros and cons of different approaches
No answers today - just questions, starting with... What is the most effective method of communicating with 150 people across 8 offices across 3 cities?
I am sure that the question can be re-written inserting larger or smaller numbers of people and/or offices and/or cities. And, of course, we are dealing with the issue of communicating with lawyers, so it is probably best to be realistic and re-phrase the question on the basis of what is the least ineffective method of communicating with... You get the point.
There are a number of options:-
Whistles - I am a desperate man and this calls for desperate measures. If managing lawyers is likened to herding cats, does it hold true that their hearing is as acute and that instructions could be conveyed (and then obeyed) on the basis of a series of ultra sonic blasts?
Email - reverting to something a little more conventional, has any lawyer manager ever sent an email, assuming a distribution group of more than 5 recipients, where more than half of recipients have read the email. And where more than half of those who have read the email have understood the contents. And where more than half of those who have read and understood the contents have actually gone as far as implementing a change in their behaviour as a result?
Cascading - the theory here being, if you tell a person who has the ear of a group of people, then they will be the conduit through which the message can be most effectively passed. This does clearly have the advantage of being able to communicate a more detailed message which has been "sense checked" through an iterative process of the person cascading having been able to raise questions during the process of communicating the message in the first instance. Of course, this relies on the assumption that the person cascading is both fully "on board" with the message and that the people they are communicating to have the remotest interest in listening to them. Otherwise, the message fails on the basis that the cascader expressly tells their group that the message is a whole heap of ******** and should be ignored or on the basis that an enthusiastic cascader faithfully delivers the message to a group who reach their own conclusions that the message is a whole heap of ******** and then ignore it any way.
Group sessions - one of the most time effective ways to ensure that the message is communicated, is to go directly to the masses and ensure that you communicate the message to them face to face. The pit falls? Well, obviously such sessions are best organised by email. Therefore, on the basis of the problems with email communication outlined above, if you email 10 people to attend a session, 5 will read it, 2.5 will read and understand it, and 1.25 (or one person when having to deal with the reality of whole numbers) will attend. So, is this at least an effective method of communicating to that one person? Not if that person reaches the conclusion that the message is a whole heap of ********... You get the point.
One to one sessions - this is both time consuming and still subject to the "whole heap of ********" problem that seems endemic in communicating with lawyers.
No answers today, just questions. But the whistle option doesn't seem so ridiculous now after all - does it?