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Remember your mortality. That’s what the Latin phrase “momento mori” means. It’s also the message behind some significant art produced over the centuries. In earlier times, the artists were not always subtle about their message regarding the inevitability of death. They simply added a skull or another example of decaying nature to the portrait or still life they were painting. Over the years, we’ve come to understand this symbolism when we see it. However, nothing in art history prepared me for the symbolism of the post-it note.
We were walking to dinner late Friday night when I saw something odd on a nearby storefront: post-it notes plastered on the store’s windows. Below, some candles and flowers. It was only when I got closer that I realized the store was an Apple store and the post-it notes were a tribute to Steve Jobs. Some of the sentiments expressed were trite, but all were heartfelt. The body language of the people gathered outside the store was telling as well — quiet, thoughtful, somber — they were trying to assess the scope of the loss.
Steve Jobs wasn’t coy about death. In his famous Stanford commencement speech he told us that death had been a constant companion since he was 17-years old and read a life-altering quotation: ”If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” Jobs continues:
It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: `If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been `No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
In Jobs’ view, it was vitally important to love what you do:
You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
In my life, I have had the good fortune to interact with all sorts of talented people. To me, Steve Jobs stands out most for his clarity of thought. Over and over again he took complex situations, understood their essence, and used that understanding to make a bold definitive move, often in a completely unexpected direction.
Clarity of thought, doing what he loved, being passionately committed to excellence. These are the hallmarks of this influential man.
It’s easy to think about this now and then shove it away in a drawer until another public figure dies too young. However, that would be to do great disservice to the man and to the message. For myself, I suspect that whenever I see a post-it note, I’ll be reminded of why it’s important to do great work, to do work that I love.
The post-it note is designed to adhere and re-adhere without leaving a residue. It is used to capture the ephemeral. It is not meant to last forever. It’s meant for now. On reflection, perhaps it is a very suitable medium for momento mori in the modern age.
You owe it to yourself to take a few minutes and watch this video of Steve Jobs’ commencement speech. (His remarks start at the 7:30 minute mark.) I’ve also provided links below to the text of his speech and some additional materials.
[Photo Credit: Pelcinary]
We were enjoying a leisurely lunch with some retired friends when the conversation turned to the indignities of aging. The older folks around the table complained about how hard it was now to remember the things that they had in their younger days retrieved effortlessly. One proudly spoke of the many poems he had memorized as a boy. Another had committed significant portions of the Bible to memory. Half joking, I said that the only things I memorized nowadays were … passwords.
What a sad commentary on modern life!
There was a time when I took great delight in finding whimsical passwords as the spirit moved. However, that casual approach often won’t fly any longer. When every password has to have a particular combination of upper and lower case letters, plus at least one number and one character (and you aren’t allowed to repeat passwords too frequently), the hunt for an acceptable password becomes even more challenging. Now, it requires careful planning. (Having a slightly twisted mind doesn’t hurt either.)
Even if you’re tempted to ignore the recent security breaches, chances are that your employer is insisting that you use more discipline and care in choosing passwords. For that matter, your online bank, your email service, your preferred shopping websites and your favorite social media platforms probably require stronger passwords too.
If you’d rather memorize poetry than passwords, consider turning to Leet to help you devise passwords that pass muster. Jesse Friedman’s recent post, Leet Speaking Passwords, helps explain how to use this technique. By swapping some of the letters in your password for similar numbers and characters, you can create a unique and memorable password that is strong enough to make a hacker cry. For example, using leet the name “Jesse” becomes “J3$$3.”
So if you’d rather spend your precious grey matter on poetry instead of passwords, consider adopting Friedman’s leet speaking approach. I can promise you that the poetry you read will bring far more joy than any list of passwords.
For additional advice on passwords, see my earlier post Safe Passwords.
[Photo Credit: Vintage Cat]
What’s the purpose of your organization? (No, that’s not a trick question.) Deb Lavoy and her colleagues at OpenText believe that answering that question is the first critical step every organization must take.
Putting their money where their mouth is, OpenText hosted on July 11 the first of what promises to be a thought-provoking series of conversations about the purpose-driven organization. The speaker at the event* was Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why. Drawing on examples as diverse as the civil rights movement, Navy SEALS, the Wright brothers, Apple and Disney, he explained that the primary role of a leader is to have a vision of the world as it can be, and then to articulate that purpose with enough clarity and energy so as to inspire others to work towards that purpose.
Granted it’s promotional material, but here’s a synopsis provided by his publishers:
In studying the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way — and it’s the complete opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be lead, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.
Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why. WHY is not money or profit– those are always results. WHY does your organization exist? WHY does it do the things it does? WHY do customers really buy from one company or another? WHY are people loyal to some leaders, but not others?
Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And the people who follow them don’t do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.
Why does your organization need a well-articulated purpose? Simon Sinek believes that without a clear and compelling purpose, you cannot recruit, retain and inspire the highly motivated people who are so committed to a shared sense of purpose that they will move mountains to achieve it. It’s this willingness to go above and beyond that sets them, and ultimately their organization, apart.
For my readers in the legal industry, don’t assume that this conversation about purpose is only for our clients. Bruce MacEwen writing at Adam Smith Esq covered some of this territory in Thoughts on IBM’s 100th: Idea or Product, where he attributes IBM’s nimbleness and longevity to its view of itself “not as an organization creating products but as an organization loyal to an idea.” He then summarizes a list from The Economist of companies that are animated by ideas versus those focused on products:
- IBM: Package technology for use by business
- Apple: Package the latest technoology in simple, elegant form and sell it at a premium
- Amazon: Make it easy for people to buy stuff
- Facebook: Help people share things with friends easily
- Dell: Building PCs very very efficiently
- Cisco: Routers
- Microsoft: Windows
Taking this dichotomy straight to the door of law firms, he asks: “Are there firms premised on fealty to ideas and firms premised on selling products (practice areas)?” After naming a couple of firms that might be “idea” firms, and one sad example of a “product” firm, he reaches a sobering conclusion:
Alas, I suspect that law firms premised on a widely recognized idea are rare. Many would insist they are idea-based, but dig under the surface and I bet you’ll find a mutating assemblage of practice areas and geographies without–in most cases–an overarching idea that all the partners could tell you in their sleep motivates the firm.
If he is right about this, how will firms recruit, retain and motivate excellent people? How can firms ensure their own longevity? Is it really just about paying market salaries? I suspect it has a great deal more to do with the type of culture a firm nurtures, and the quality of the clients and work a firm attracts.
As we continue in this period of economic uncertainty, it’s worth considering whether your law firm, company, business unit, department, school or nonprofit has what it takes for the long haul. You should start by asking WHY.
If you’d like to hear more about the importance of knowing your purpose, here’s Simon Sinek’s very popular TED Talk:
*Disclosure: This event was sponsored by OpenText and free to the public.
[Photo Credit: Godserv]
Some say that the legal profession has raised caution to a high art form. Even so, it is possible to find in every walk of life people whose favorite course of action is to adopt a wait and see strategy. But is this a wise course? Some recent writing about the human tendency to avoid making a commitment and taking a decision suggests that the temporary reprieve provided by a deferred decision may be extremely costly. Consider the following:
- While many prefer to make only reversible decisions (or avoid hard decisions altogether), psychologists tell us that this approach can lead to more unhappiness and poorer performance. According to their studies, our unwillingness to commit to a decision causes us to waste energy worrying about that decision after the fact. This in turn leaves us with less energy to act in such a way as to ensure a good outcome. In other words, the lack of commitment can lead to a bad result. For more information on this phenomenon, read Heidi Grant Halvorson’s post Why Keeping Your Options Open Is A Really, Really Bad Idea.
- The wait and see strategy is particularly problematic when facing innovation. It takes courage (and what sometimes seems like a touch of insanity) to be a first mover, yet the benefits of being first can be very rewarding. Bruce MacEwen reminds us of this when talking about the slow pace of innovation in his favorite location — “lawland.” In his post, Be Innovative? Who, Me?, he looks at the European and US car industries. As he tells it, the European automakers seized a key competitive advantage by committing early to innovation. Thus, by the time the US stragglers finally admitted that the European innovations were worthwhile, the Europeans had time to refine those innovations and move on to the next thing. McEwen suggests that lawyers can draw a lesson from the automakers.
- In her recent commencement address at Barnard College, Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) spoke about the costs of failing to commit to a career. In her view, this failure to commit over time leads to the kind of career from which too many women are willing to walk away. Andrew McAfee describes her remarks as a “graduation speech for the ages.” While you may not agree with everything she says, it’s worth thinking about her comments on the dangers of failing to commit. In particular, she urges the listening graduates to “lean in” to their careers: “Do not lean back; lean in. Put your foot on that gas pedal and keep it there until the day you have to make a decision, and then make a decision. That’s the only way, when that day comes, you’ll even have a decision to make.“ (I’ve posted a video of her speech below for those of you who would like to hear more from her.)
So there you have it — three different instances in which failing to commit, to decide, to act can have painful consequences. In light of this, what are you waiting for?
Sheryl Sandberg’s Speech:
[Photo Credit: Crashcandy]
For years the legal profession has encouraged individual excellence and rewarded individual productivity. In fact, we’ve come to admire those outstanding lawyers who define the best of the legal profession. Every firm has its legendary lawyer — the person who defied odds to win an unwinnable case or found a solution to a seemingly intractable corporate problem. We may even believe that some of these men (and they almost always were men back in the day) were geniuses. And so we aspire to be brilliant, just like them.
But what happens when the challenges are too big for one person to handle alone? While he doesn’t mean to diminish in any way the accomplishment represented by the theory of gravity or the theory of evolution, Jonah Lehrer reports that things are more challenging now than they were in the times of Newton and Darwin:
…our modern problems have gotten so hard – so damn intractable, complicated and multi-disciplinary – that we can no longer solve them by ourselves. … But the complexity of our 21st century problems (clean coal, hydrogen cars, everything in neuroscience, string theory, etc.) has not just led to a postponement in peak creativity. It has also lessened the importance of the individual. …teams have become a far more important part of intellectual production.
…the era of the lone genius is coming to an end. If our current lists of global thinkers seem paltry, it’s because the best thinkers no longer exist by themselves, toiling away in a vacuum. Instead, they require the constant feedback and knowledge of others. We live in a world of such complexity that our problems increasingly exceed the possibilities of the individual mind. Collaboration is no longer an option.
And here we find our problem. If the path to innovation and progress lies in teamwork and collaboration, what are lawyers going to do? Psychological studies of lawyers indicate that they score low with respect to the personality traits most useful for harmonious and productive teamwork. Furthermore, Lehrer describes the best environment for innovation as one with constant feedback, knowledge sharing and transparency. Does this sound like your law firm?
As I said earlier, Houston — we have a problem.
[Photo Credit: MsAnthea]
No, this is not the beginning of a lawyer joke! Rather it’s the question that was answered at an informative session held at the Practising Law Institute in New York City. As part of a day-long program on legal project management, the organizers asked Mark I. Sirkin, Ph.D., to speak about the personality traits of lawyers and their suitability to lead or serve on project teams. (Dr. Sirkin is the co-managing partner of Threshold Advisors, LLC and was formerly a consultant with Hildebrandt.) Using recent research and the Hogan Personality Inventory Scales, Dr. Sirkin identified the following challenges:
- Lawyers are not designed for teamwork. Most lawyers have the personality trait of Autonomy, which means they would prefer to do their own thing rather than work with others. Further, not only do they score high in Autonomy, but also in Skepticism and Pessimism. They are trained to assume the worst, look for problems, issue spot. Taken together, these traits can make them hard to be around.
- Lawyers don’t find it easy to work with others. Lawyers score below the general population in Sociability (i.e., the need for social interaction) and Resilience (i.e., they are thin-skinned).
- Lawyers are trained for independent action. Law schools traditionally have emphasized individual performance. Contrast this with business schools, which require teamwork from their students from the beginning.
- Law firms traditionally have rewarded individual performance. If the compensation system of a firm is individualized and competitive, it does not provide incentives for teamwork and cooperation.
- Lawyers feel fungible. If a lawyer feels like a fungible billing bot, that lawyer will find it hard to identify and pursue an inspiring goal. Sharing inspiring goals is key to establishing team spirit.
- Lawyers tend to be adversarial. Dr. Sirkin’s data show that many (if not most) lawyers tend to be adversarial by nature. Further, they are tough-minded and tolerant of conflict.
- Lawyers have high Urgency. A high Urgency score indicates a tendency to rush to action. Most lawyers score high in Urgency, which means that they tend to lack patience for the early planning that is required for project management and teamwork.
- Lawyers are not detail-oriented. The data supporting this assertion will surprise lawyers and their critics alike. When compared to the general population, lawyers tend to be more “big picture” people and less focused on small details. To the extent lawyers do focus on details, it is often because of their Aesthetics score, which tends to push them toward providing good work product.
While a lifetime of hearing lawyer jokes may predispose you to believe that lawyers have few good traits, the reality is more nuanced than that. Their self-selection over time tends to concentrate particular traits within the profession, but those traits have been viewed as necessary for survival until now. That said, lawyers at the top of their game are highly functioning individuals who have accomplished a great deal of good in the world. Nonetheless, from a purely self-referential perspective, I do find this research troubling. What is clear is that the personality traits of many lawyers make them less amenable to general law firm knowledge management efforts. When reinforced by an “eat what you kill” compensation system, they apparently have little incentive to share, cooperate or collaborate.
However, the problem goes far beyond law firm KM. In fact, this discussion left me wondering if the people who had been so successful in a profession that traditionally emphasized independent, adversarial action might now be ill-equipped for the new style of lawyering involving project management, focused teamwork, effective knowledge management and transparency. Obviously, firms will need to change their training practices. Will they also have to change their hiring practices?
[Photo Credit: slgckgc]
We pride ourselves on our ability to make logical decisions. Lawyers take this one step further, we believe we are trained to make dispassionate, logical decisions. In other words, objectively good decisions. So why do we make so many bad decisions? I’d suggest it’s because our decision-making capacity is limited by our knowledge and self-awareness.
Consider some facts:
- Most of us don’t know what actually makes us happy. Daniel Gilbert’s research indicates that most of us have a hard time predicting how something will affect our sense of well-being. Because of this, we often make choices that do not make us as happy as we expected. In fact, our poor ability to predict can lead us to make bad choices time and time again.
- There are folks in this country who routinely vote against their economic best interests in support of positions that have little impact on their lives. Just consider some of the more emotional political debates of recent times.
- There are law firm leaders who don’t appear to know how to maximize the economic returns of their firm. (Or if they understand it, they seem to lack the will to make the necessary changes.) For more on this issue, see Toby Brown’s post on the role of leverage in law firm profitability.
- Many lawyers have demonstrated what Jordan Furlong describes as a “blind side” when it comes to the fundamentals of their business. Just like they ignore the tectonic shifts around them, they don’t always see how changes in the business of law should be changing the way they operate.
- Cognitive dissonance helps us screen out information that might challenge our thinking, our approach to life.
- “We stand where we sit.” Our place in the hierarchy can have a profound impact on how we approach decision making. Unfortunately, we may not be sitting in the right place to make the best decisions. (See Graham Allison’s analysis of decision making based on the “organizational process model” during the Cuban Missile Crisis.)
These tendencies can be highly problematic for anyone (especially a knowledge manager) who is trying to provide support through nonbillable activities. How do you convince your colleagues that what you are doing is so valuable that they need to be doing it too? After all, they are convinced that they don’t have the time to do this work. And, they don’t really see the value in it. In this situation, how do you break through the limits of their knowledge and self-awareness to help them understand what is truly in their best interest?
To be honest, as long as cognitive dissonance is operating, I don’t think you can overcome these decision-making limitations unless you act strategically. For example, find the people who think differently and then turn them into Trojan Horses:
- Find the people in your law firm who are wired to consider and value new ideas and information.
- Introduce them to your knowledge management system and then provide sufficient support so that they get up the learning curve as quickly and painlessly as possible.
- Follow-up on their feedback. They are a valuable source of insight and may well be able to help you improve the system.
- Once they are happy with the KM system, ask them to share it with members of their network. In this way, people who might not entertain a helpful suggestion from their knowledge manager find themselves lowering their defenses long enough for a person they consider to be a trusted adviser to make a recommendation. Then you need to follow up with support and a high level of responsiveness to their feedback.
- Rinse and repeat.
While people may seem hidebound in their unwillingness to even try the tools you’ve designed specifically for their benefit, don’t give up. Sometimes the key is to find an advocate of such great credibility that they are able to overcome the natural reluctance of their colleagues to devote the time and energy required to try something new. The power of a trusted adviser working her network should never be underestimated. It is one way to help people rediscover their ability to make rational decisions.
What other ways have you found to help people overcome their natural barriers and make important changes?
A blog post entitled 10 Ways to Be Productive During Downtime on a Job prompted an incredulous chuckle from me, along with the following question: “Who has downtime on their job?” Call me misguided, but I was under the impression that the last few years of workforce “right sizing” had left everyone else with so much to do that there wasn’t enough time for downtime. Did I miss something? Nonetheless, in an effort to learn something from what I’d encountered, I wondered whether the issue was not so much that downtime is generated when we have under-demanding jobs, but rather that downtime is a function of how we as humans work. If it’s the latter, shouldn’t we plan to make the best possible use of it?
In his book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance,* Tony Schwartz and his co-authors remind us that we aren’t like computers — designed to be on constantly while operating multiple programs simultaneously over long stretches of time. Rather, we’re meant to oscillate between periods of intense, focused activity, and downtime. In his view, this downtime is a vitally important opportunity to refresh our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual resources so that we can bring them all to the work we’ve chosen to do. Further, the downtime (if done correctly) gives our brains a chance to operate a bit more creatively, taking advantage of internal processes of which we’re unaware and cannot direct. This suggests that even the most overworked person needs to plan for downtime. Not because they have too little to do, but precisely because they have so much to do and need to ensure they bring their best to their work.
Whether you choose to use your downtime for chores or choose deliberately to recharge your batteries, remember that even robots require time in the workshop for renewal and repair.
[Photo Credit: Swansea Photographer]
*Disclosure: As an experiment, I’m trying the Amazon Associates program, which means that if you purchase this book via the link above, I may at some point receive a small commission from Amazon. Here’s the formal statement recommended by Amazon: VMAbraham is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Greg Lowe and Kathleen Culver gave a reprise of their much-praised presentation first given at the E2.0 Conference in San Francisco.
[These are my quick notes, complete with (what I hope is no more than) the occasional typo and grammatical error. Please excuse those. Thanks!
From time to time, I'll insert my own editorial comments - exercising the prerogatives of the blogger. I'll show those in brackets. ]
- Constant electronic connection provides lots of well-known benefits
- Gives flexibility
- Reduces need to travel
- However, there is a downside – and that’s the Dark Side of E2.0
- You are constantly interrupted
- You lose the flow
- There is less downtime – required to respond constantly
- less play
- put your close relationships at risk
- problem of burnout from being “on” 24/7
- poor performance – interruptions distract you and make you less able to perform – almost as if you had too much to drink
- Cites Tony Schwartz’ The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working
- We aren’t computers that can stay “on” all the time
- High performers have a particular pattern to their work – they have periods of deep focus followed by downtime — even they don’t try to perform at a peak level 24/7
- Because we can use E2.0 to avoid travel, we can work remotely. This means that we don’t meet in person as much any more. This leads
- to more misunderstanding because we miss subtle non-verbal clues
- it is harder to achieve comaraderie and a sense of rapport with out colleagues.
- Part of how we absorb information is involves more than just ingesting raw data – we absorb information better when we have other physical sensations at the same time (you remember better what someone tells you when you are holding a cup of hot coffee in the cafeteria – more inputs -than when you are reading an e-mail without other physical sensation)
- Cites Daniel Goleman’s work on mirror neurons, which are important for our ability to empathize. University of Michigan study reports that there has been a 40% decline in the empathy of college students in the last 20 years due to the fact that they interact remotely more frequently.
- Why should a company care? Comraderie and rapport are correlated to loyalty. Empathy helps build comraderie and rapport.
- New 2.0 venues give us broader input/perspective, multlingual advantages, opportunities to buildcorporate knowledge and creates new corporate behaviors and culture.
- new 2.0 venues can lead to “Exposure Bias.” Because not every employee will be able to master these new 2.0 venues, the ones that do will enjoy the benefits of visibility (exposure). The quiet ones will be crowded out. The ones who contribute and participate will have more perceived popularity and expertise. Will this lead people to game the system in order to drive up their rankings? This isn’t the desired behavior – we need the true experts participating.
- Old behaviors then appear in “new clothes” – for example, managers press gang people into their communities in order to show higher participation numbers even though these people haven’t joined for the right reasons and most likely won’t add value
- E2.0 can provide easy access to information. Greg Lowe calls this the “information candy store.” The downside of this is information overload. This can lead to huge loss of productivity.
- Citing Daniel Schwartz’ work on The Paradox of Choice – the more choice we have, the higher the stakes regarding the decision, yet we tend to lose confidence in our ability to make a good choice.
- With too much information, even the most careful, focused person can fall into analysis paralysis in a good faith attempt to make a good decision.
- The biggest risks of E2.0:
- loss of productivity
- risk of burnout
- negative impact on the quality of decisions
- threats to employee morale and happiness
- However, the Dark Side still can’t be quantified. Therefore, E2.0 is still safe from business case risks – however, there is a risk to individuals.
- How do you mitigate the impact of the Dark Side?
- Avoid “alert fatigue”
- Unplug yourself
- Make an effort to meet in person as often as possible
- Remember the ‘wallflowers” – make sure you’re engaging with the folks who are less likely to jump into E2.0
- Improve your ability to filter the noise – this is not a one-time action. As your priorities change, you need to change your filters so that only the most relevant information comes through the filter.
- This advice is like “eat healthy and exercise.” In other words, it’s easier saiid than done.
- For example, we get addicted to Alerts becase we get a little rush when someone gives us a good comment on our work or our activity stream.
- We fear loss of reputation if we aren’t always active and recognized as an expert.
- We don’t want to be seen as non-responsive.
- Immunity to change – it’s extremely hard to makes these changes. We have habits for how we work. While it is possible to change habits, this requires real mental focus. Unfortunately, multitasking has a negative impact on our ability to must the level of focus and persistence necessary to change habits.
- Citing [Daniel Segal called Blindside]
- Citing Barbara Ehrenreidt Brightsiding – about the relentless flood of positive information that masks the real issues and helps people avoid the thought, analysis and discussions that are necessary to actually achieve true rather than fake positive results.
- Focus: We are responsible for what we pay attention to. What we attend to is what we remember and shapes who we are and what we are able to achieve. Therefore, pay attention to your attention – just as much as you pay attention to your health and your money.
- Constant electronic connection provides lots of well-known benefits
Whether we’re compelled by an urge for productivity or a chronic lack of time, many of us spend our days multitasking. Even though there are serious questions about the true efficacy of multitasking, many feel that we simply have no choice. While some say this is just the new reality in today’s world, others point to research that indicates that human multitasking is a myth:
As technology allows people to do more tasks at the same time, the myth that we can multitask has never been stronger. But researchers say it’s still a myth — and they have the data to prove it.
Humans, they say, don’t do lots of things simultaneously. Instead, we switch our attention from task to task extremely quickly.
This suggests that when we try to multitask, we’re really just doing multiple things serially with less than full focus. Depending on the circumstances, that can be delightful (e.g., listening to music while doing household chores), dumb (e.g., having a serious “relationship” conversation while watching a sporting event on TV) or even dangerous (e.g., texting while driving). But have you considered the ethics of multitasking?
All lawyers in active practice in New York are required to attend ongoing education sessions in order to earn a specified number of continuing legal education (CLE) credits and, thereby, remain in good standing. In a recent post about “Blackberryheads” on the Legal Ethics Forum, renowned legal ethicist Stephen Gillers challenged lawyers by asking,
Is it ethical to claim CLE credit for a talk on legal ethics if you’ve spent nearly the entire time a captive of your Blackberry? Or laptop? Or editing a brief? Or reading a book on your iPad?
Even if you’re not a lawyer, is it ethical to give only partial attention to the task at hand?
- Leo Babauta, How NOT to Multitask – Work Simpler and Saner
- Jim McGee, Asking more relevant questions about focus and multitasking
- Christine Rosen, The Myth of Multitasking
- Jack Vinson, When is multitasking not multitasking?
[Photo Credit: Mike Licht]