Monday, October 19, 2009

Exemplar Vice President and Atty Jessica Manganello Interviewed @ DART Boston

We hate to toot our own horns (actually...hmm... not really), but it seems Boston can't get enough of Exemplarites these days. Click here to watch Exemplar VP Jessica Manganello, Esq. talk about entrepreneurial growth challenges and finding that "secret sauce" that will aid a company on its path to success. Way to go, Jessica! You do Exemplar proud every day.

Here are some of the highlights of the interview **PLEASE NOTE: These are selected quotes and may not be verbatim**:

Webber's comments about Exemplar:

"The Exemplar model is different from the traditional law firm factory."

"Your secret sauce is:

• Your hiring practice;
• Your decisionmaking practice;
• Your billing practice."

[With regard to the hiring process]: "People chosen to work with you must pass a litmus test."

"You [sic] focus on and invent new language – e.g., customer vs. client."

[On Exemplar's Full Service Model]: "You’re not in the law business as it is simply defined. In other words, you are not simply doing legal work for a client. You are also in the consigliore business. You’re adding advice and counsel and strategic business help, which is why all lawyers are educated in business or have business experience. You’re giving organizations that come to you for help more than legal help; you’re giving them ‘counsel’. A ‘trust consigliore’ is what businesses need today. This is a different and a great business."

[On expanding the team]:

Moderator: As concerns human capital, you have a young core team and want to bring in an older generation to work with you. During our discussions Jessica, you mentioned that you were nervous about this process.

Jessica: We have a ‘no asshole’ rule. We have slow growth because we are protective of our model. Yet, we don’t want everyone to be like us. While the young people are excited about the new model, the older people are hesitant about it because it is so different. It is a challenge growing when you bring in someone who is older and more experienced, but is answering to you or other attorneys who have tattoos or high heels. Even when you work collaboratively, older attorneys ask for coffee and we say Whoa! What? It presents a challenge to your culture.

[On Inspiration and Best Ideas of the Firm]:

Where do you get your best ideas from, in terms of firm and future?

Jessica: When we are sitting around drinking we have inspirations concerning our core values and how they can be implemented. We are currently going through a rebranding, have created a new logo and are launching a new website.

Our branding person asked the firm:
• If your firm was a person, what would it look like?
• What music would it listen to?
• If your firm was a politician, what would its platform be?
• If your firm was a food, what would it taste like?

The cornerstone of our company is to keep social ideas running.

Check out the whole interview for more insight not only into Exemplar, but into best practices for building YOUR entrepreneurial venture!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Mismatch between what science knows and what business does

By: Gerrit Betz

The news is in, and the way we have been incentivizing work for decades has been proven to be harmful to productivity. Carrots and Sticks are on the way out. Worker autonomy is on the way in.

That is the gist of a recent talk by Dan Pink, a former speechwriter to Al Gore, a published author, and a contributing editor to WIRED magazine.

Dan makes a compelling case for reevaluating how we structure incentives for employees and even ourselves. He describes a social science experiment called the "Candle Problem," designed in 1945, where participants are asked to accomplish a simple task. The task has a very simple solution that requires some creativity to discover. So when a modern experimenter revived the experiment and timed two groups to see which could solve it faster, the results were surprising.

When participants are told that fastest participants received a cash reward, they do significantly worse. It takes them, on average, three minutes longer to reach the solution than people who were simply told the average time it should take to find the solution.

Dan explains that traditional rewards work well when there is a "simple set of rules and a clear destination" because "rewards . . . narrow our focus, concentrate the mind. Where you just see the goal right there, zoom ahead straight to it, they work well . . . . But for the real candle problem . . . the solution is on the periphery." In fact, as the cash prize increases, people do even worse.

The implications for modern work of all kinds are staggering. We've seen straight-forward jobs like manufacturing either go overseas or become automated by machines and computers. We're left with nothing but "Candle Problems" with no clear rules and many possible solutions.

The presentation really hits home for me, because my candle problem is often legal research, or crafting arguments, and trust me-rushing in head-first on either of those is a great way to spend a long time going nowhere.

You'll have to watch the rest of the clip (runtime 18:40) for the juicy details and snappy jokes, but in the end Dan suggests that intrinsic, internal rewards (like granting employees greater autonomy) are more effective than extrinsic, carrot-and-stick incentives.

What are your "Candle Problems?" How are you going to approach them from now on?

Gerrit is a legal intern with Exemplar Law Partners, LLC.