We marked a major milestone in the life of our family by having dinner at an extraordinary restaurant this evening. The restaurant was Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This restaurant is exceptional in many ways: it’s located in Pocantico Hills, in the beautifully renovated old barns of the Rockefeller estate outside New York City; it acquires many of its delicious ingredients from the organic farm on the estate; and it is blessed with a truly gifted chef and staff.
Now, you might reasonably expect a memorable meal in a restaurant like this, and you would be right. However, it was the menu that made this restaurant unusual. What was so special about the menu? There is no menu. Every night is culinary improvisation. Instead of a menu, the restaurant provides you with a list of some of the fantastic ingredients available in the kitchen and then asks you if you have any food allergies or aversions. Once you’ve provided the necessary information, the chef tailor makes a menu for you based on the best available ingredients. Your only decision concerns the number of courses you’d like in your meal. That’s it.
Having given the chef our minimal requirements, we sat back and enjoyed the meal as it unfolded. Every dish was a work of art, every mouthful a revelation. But beyond the food, much of the fun was in watching the delight on the faces of all around as various courses were presented and tasted. No two tables received the same dinner, but every diner was patently happy.
On the way home from dinner, I found myself wondering what it would be like if we approached law firm technology and law firm knowledge management in the same way as the chef at Blue Hill? What would we need in place in order to offer this level of personalized service? What would be required to provide a comparable level of user delight? As we move towards user-selected tools and user-defined services, law firm IT and KM departments will be pushed to provide customized work environments and support. In fact, we may well be approaching the end of a one-size-fits-all approach to law firm IT and KM. If this is so, the challenge will be to stretch beyond the bare minimums to a level of personalized service, care, consideration and user delight comparable to that of Blue Hill. Are you ready?
[Photo Credit: Alexandra Moss]