Cindy Thurston, Director of Knowledge Development, at Shaw Pittman LLP, alerted me to an interesting column by Tom Davenport, A Measurable Proposal in the June issue of CIO magazine.

In the column, Prof. Davenport explores the idea that one can apply process improvement methods to improve the effectiveness of knowledge workers. In his own words: “I believe that the next big process change initiative should involve knowledge work. Let’s examine how we do strategy, marketing campaigns, mergers and acquisitions, and R&D programs. Maybe we could even take on the process of management. This time—unlike in days gone by with reengineering—we should involve those who do the work. I see no reason why participative, creative efforts can’t improve knowledge processes just as they improved the more structured, less knowledge-intensive type.”

I see a positive spin when I read his column. He appears to suggest that knowledge workers need more help than they now receive in the effective use of technology plus facilities and an organization that support their work. Furthermore, one can potentially identify best practices and share them. I certainly believe this is true for lawyers. Some of the comments appended to the article, however, seem to take a dystopian view of his suggestions.