This is the fourth in an occasional series of “maxims” on managing legal technology. Each one is a bit edgy – you have to decide where the line is on just how true it is!  

Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom – Not! Two decades ago, legal technology proponents advocated, after Chairman Mao, letting a thousand flowers bloom. That is, they wanted lawyers to be able to do whatever they wanted with their PCs. At one time, I too was a Maoist (in that regard only).

Today, the complexity of IT operations, networks, and running help desks is much greater than in the early PC days. Letting users do whatever they want supports innovation and productivity but can mean chaos, extraordinary support costs, and real IT risks. Yet locking down desk tops and complete standardization has its down sides. So, how to keep both the IT gurus and the adventurous lawyers happy?

I’m not sure there is a perfect answer. One is that IT gives power users rights to install local software and some personal support. If the desktop “blows up,” however, the answer is to restore it back to the firm standard (you are backing up data, aren’t you?)

Any other answers that keeps both power users and CIOs happy? What will happen as/if more firms adopt thin client computing (meaning your desktop really is running centrally)?