Non-Lawyers Bring Innovation to the Table. Really.

I received an e-mail from Patrick McKenna, a long-time professional services consultant with Edge International, kindly informing me of his most recent blog post (dated December 30, 2007) titled, The ABA, Shamefully Does Not Practice Diversity. In it he criticizes the December issue of the ABA Journal for its cover story, “The Blawg 100: The Best Web Sites By Lawyers.”

States McKenna,

“I cannot believe the shameful audacity of the ABA Journal to rate web sites for lawyers . . . by including only those written by lawyers. For those who long suspected that the legal profession, unique amongst professions for categorizing people as either being lawyers or non-lawyers, really doesn’t understand or support diversity, you now have the proof.”

He provides several examples of excellent blogs for lawyers written by non-lawyers including those by:

Then just yesterday, I read a very interesting article in the New York Times that offers an explanation as to how this type of isolated thinking happens. In Innovative Minds Don’t Think Alike, Janet Rae-Dupree, describes this phenomenon as a “curse of knowledge.”

“…once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your conversations with others in the field are peppered with catch phrases and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated. When it’s time to accomplish a task — open a store, build a house, buy new cash registers, sell insurance — those in the know get it done the way it has always been done, stifling innovation as they barrel along the well-worn path.”

The article offers anecdotal and scientific support for bringing people with different skill sets — even (gasp) outsiders — to the table. It also introduces a groovy, new bit of jargon you can toss around — “zero-gravity thinkers.” Click here to read the full article on nytimes.com — it’s worth the 5 minutes.

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2 Comments

  1. Suzanne Lowe

    January 2, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

    1

    Amy, thanks for taking Patrick McKenna’s righteous — and right — indignation to another fine point. As for me, I’m on a rant of my own, in my http://www.expertisemarketplace.com blog, about the pitfalls of trying too hard to stay within one’s own “experience sandbox.” My recent post tells a story about how I told the truth – that I DIDN’T have the exact experience my prospects were hoping I had, but that speaking this bold truth probably figured in my getting hired anyway. Let’s hear it for breaking out of isolated thinking!

  2. susan paschell

    January 6, 2008 @ 1:03 pm

    2

    This article is great. I love the zero gravity term.

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