A technology decision about to go awry can always be identified by one really pervasive tool of feature driven technology choices — the checklist. The checklists of what features a technology has, what protocols it abides by, where it fits into particular boxes.
Check lists are good for getting things done. Check lists are horrible evaluation tools. A checklist takes the omega and makes it the alpha, it looks for the punchline before getting the joke, it’s the proverbial tail wagging the dog.
Legal technology for years has been driven by checklist driven IT staffs and their corresponding brethern, the RFI/RFP believers. These folks truly believe in their heart of hearts, and bless them for this, that through by a formal process of elimination, the proper solution will appear — generally with a score next to it indicating its degree of perfection. “They scored a 100 on our RFP process! Of course we will use them.”
How’s that working so far? In short, not at all. In our industry, legal entities of all kinds are in disarray – completely unprepared for electronic evidence despite having spent billions of dollars over the last decade on technology infrastructure.
It’s time for a completely new approach, a matured technology approach, that looks at how the values of the technology match up with your values.
Not to say features aren’t important. They are, we have lots of them. We have many more features than most of our customers will ever use or know about. I’d venture to say there isn’t a single person here who knows all of them.
We think about features all the time, but we think about them in a framework of values, not a framework of features.
Features are important in a technology’s infancy. You can see this with audio technology, from when phonographs touted “quadrophonic sound”. That’s a feature purchase.
A value purchase is, can I take my entire collection with me in my pocket? Can I listen to it anywhere I want? 120 GB are you kidding me?
And as any audiophile worth their salt will tell you, vinyl records sound infinitely better than a compressed music file. And they do!
For some folks for whom that specific feature – sound quality – is critical, the a turntable will be the right solution. But for most, other parts of the core value of the technology – portability, ease of use, speed of access, looking cool on the bus – will overwhelm the specific feature decision.
And even when the individual features win, its because that they reference an underlying value. The most important value for an audiophile is “does it sound the best”, not “is it vinyl”. The vinyl is the ways to the end, not the end in itself.
If your technology purchase is based on “it has to work on our servers” or “it has to be based on a specific company’s technology” or “it has to be on our servers”, “it has or doesn’t have x feature,” its not being driven by the core value, it’s being driven by a checklist.
The next time you hear someone say “we should pick this one because it has x feature”, a light should go off. That’s a checklist talking.