More likely than not, your tech stack isn’t enabled to its greatest functionality. Why? Well, sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. Dennis and Tom talk about maximizing the potential your tools, platforms, apps, and software have to interact more collaboratively to improve the day-to-day operations of your law firm. Connecting your components improves not only your human interactions, but lets your technologies work together to their greatest capabilities.
Though not yet widely available, Twitter’s edit function is out in the wild for a small group of users. The guys put this edit button through their “Hot or Not?” filter, considering the negative and positive possibilities enshrouded in an editable tweet.
As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can use the second the podcast ends.
Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for the answers to your most burning tech questions.
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Tom Mighell: Before we get started, we’d like to thank our sponsors, Embroker, Clio, and Posh Virtual Receptionists.
Intro: Web 2.0, Innovation, Trend, Collaboration, Software, Metadata… Got the world turning as fast as it can? Hear how technology can help, legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors, and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell. Welcome to The Kennedy-Mighell Report here on the Legal Talk Network.
Dennis Kennedy: And welcome to Episode 322 of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.
Tom Mighell: And I’m Tom Mile in Dallas.
Dennis Kennedy: In our last episode, we looked at collaboration in hybrid or mixed work environments to give you a look into some of the big takeaways from our new book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies’,the Work from Home Edition. In this episode we wanted to talk about where collaboration actually fits into your technology stack as we’ll call it, and we’ll explain that term and why we believe that most organizations are not giving enough consideration to what we call the collaboration layer of their technology stack. Remember, we are collaborating with others all the time, and we best get good at it. Tom, what’s on our agenda for this episode?
Tom Mighell: Well, Dennis, in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. We will indeed be sharing some insights into the idea of the collaboration layer of your technology stack. In our second segment, we’re going to return to our Hot or Not? segment and debate the infamous and much-awaited Twitter edit button or feature, and maybe Twitter in general in 2022, and as usual we’ll finish up with our parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over, but first up we would like to announce the publication of a fabulous new book for anyone in law using technology, and that’s just about everyone in legal profession and everyone who interacts with the legal profession, and that is the latest edition of our book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies Work From Home Edition’. It’s out and available for order. We’ve included a link in the show notes.
In this episode, we want to look at collaboration from a slightly different angle, and that’s your own technology stack. When we talk about collaboration tools, we aren’t just talking about buying or using new technology. We are talking about taking a look at the tools you already use and discovering the capabilities you have in and among, and between them. So, where do we want to get started, Dennis? Do you want to start us off with what we mean by technology stacks and layers as you put it?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. I sort of become fond lately of thinking of the technology stack, which probably might be better to say just mapping out what your technology is and, you know, it’s applicable in a number of ways, but there’s this idea that you have this stack of technology and it’s built up on different layers. So, you have hardware, you have software, you have internet, but you also have layers of applications, and you sort of think of the whole thing when you map it out as a stack. And that’s basically what I’m talking about. I just think it’s sort of a useful metaphor. Tom, am I in the ballpark there or do we need to clean that up a little bit?
Tom Mighell: No, you’re mostly in the ballpark. So, the reason why I get a little hung up when I think of the term technology stack is that if you go out and look for a formal or a traditional definition of a tech stack, I’m going to give you what I found on one website, because for me I know enough about technology to be dangerous but hearing this just makes my mind hurt. It’s a combination of technologies that a company uses to build and run an application or project. The tech stack typically consists of programming languages, frameworks, a database, frontend tools, backend tools, and applications connected via APIs, all of which sounds correct. I just don’t totally understand how that works and how to apply it in the law firm environment. Dennis, you can think about that more and maybe give a response to that in a second.
That doesn’t work for me in the context that we’re using in this podcast. So, instead, I’m going to use another definition that I like better, which is that a tech stack is a collection of tools, platforms, apps, and pieces of software that a company uses to carry out its business operations, build products, and measure its success.
So, I think of it more in terms of discrete tools that you use and not necessarily backend databases or a web interface to meet up with something, and a frontend versus a backend tool, I think more of the discrete tools that we as lawyers use on an everyday basis to work with those things.
Dennis Kennedy: Right. And I think that, so to me, the term stack is applicable as you said and I can build then say, “Here’s what my hardware stack is.” I have, you know, like network servers and I have, you know, laptops connected to it and devices, and phones, and all these things you can do with software, you can do with your network. We’ve talked in the past and in podcasts about the internet operating system which has a number of layers, and you see it elsewhere. So, I see it as I’m mapping out my technology in sort of a logical way so I understand it, and to say it’s built on layers, and almost in a pyramid type of shape is how I tend to think of it, and say, “Here’s this base layer,” that, you know, is that sort of network that you’re running on and you kind of move up the stack to more and more discrete applications that have specific purposes. And then, I think those stacks just kind of lie on top of each other, but I do think that there are some layers that might overlap or interconnect and that’s where I think the collaboration tools really, really come into play there.
Tom Mighell: Well, my other difference here is that I have trouble conceptually thinking of the term layers when I think about this, because when I think of a tech stack as being a collection of tools and apps, each of the tools plays a different function and may connect with each other, but I view those less as layers and more as modules or components of the stack and not necessarily a layer because that’s just not a term that I feel comfortable using.
I like the term stack and it makes sense to me, but I think I just view it in a slightly more simplistic way that helps me conceive of what it is, but I really think it is your technologies and, you know, as we are talking about today, what we find that it gets overlooked frequently is the fact that certain components, pieces of the layer, pieces of the stack, whatever, will have collaboration, functions, or capabilities that can or should be working with other parts of your layers or stacks, or whatever we’re going to call it. And we’re not taking advantage of those enough. We’re just not enabling them or using them to their fullest capacity, and so I would argue that your tech stack is probably not working at its full functionality that it could be working for you.
Dennis Kennedy: But I think the idea with kind of visualizing your tech stack is you get a good sense of everything you have and how it works together, but I think it’s important at this point, Tom, clearly to give some kind of example. And so, one of the things that prompted this podcast was I sketched out the other day something I called the law department tech stack, and I did this in as simple a way possible as you will see in some of the names that I gave the layer.
So, I start out with what I call, the very technical term here, “the invisible infrastructure layer,” which is sort of the network, everything that we actually don’t see that’s necessary for things to run. Then I said we have this desktop layer which is what we as the legal professionals actually see. There’s something I call the production creation layer, so you can think of we’re producing documents of Microsoft Word, that sort of thing. I think there’s a management layer, that’s how we track workflow. I think there is a collaboration layer I think of, then I think we go up into higher functions, so an analytics layer. So, like, “How do we evaluate what we’re doing, come up with key performance indicators, or KPIs?” Those sorts of things, so analytics, and then I think a business decision layer, typically evidenced by a dashboard, and then I think there is a communications presentation layer. So, how do we send out information in ways that other people can understand? And so, I put those together and then as I started to do that pyramid, I realized that the collaboration actually kind of loops through all those different layers.
Obviously, Tom, I thought about this with the law department in mind and the functions that a law department needs, which may be different than other people. So, that’s one type of stack. You might have some comments on that, Tom, or you might have some ways that you think about stacks that you see when you’re working with your clients.
Tom Mighell: Well, so the challenge that I have with your description there is the notion that I can accept that everything that you call being a layer except for the collaboration piece of it, and it’s for the reason that you said there at the end, that you were noticing that collaboration is looping through all of it. To me, if collaboration is a layer, then it is separate and apart, and they all seem to be separate and apart from each other is how I look at that, and to me there are collaboration aspects to all the things you just described. And so, that’s why using it in the term layer doesn’t work for me.
When I think about the clients that we work for, again, I think about it in a much more simplistic way and I don’t think in terms of the broader categories that you have, but more in terms of the functions that people want to do. So, for example the corporations I work with, the marketing department, their tech stack might include email software, might include chatbot software, it might include a content management system, it might include lead generation, and analytics tools. So, I think that it’s covering the same types of layers that you’re talking about, but I’m thinking of it more in terms of the platforms are application-centric rather than from a function center. You know, sales department stack would include a CRM software, customer relationship management software, would have call tracking software, would have meeting scheduling tools, it would have video recording, and those types of things, and that’s what I think about when I think of a tech stack, is what are the functions of this group and what technologies do we need in order to accomplish these functions? And for me, the collaboration layer or whatever is the fact that a lot of these tools can and should be able to work together or there should be functions within them that allow you to work from one system to another to share information with people, and so that they aren’t always siloed tools that are working together but they are things that you can use to carry on the business of the department, both with other people and by yourself. So, I think of collaboration being not just people working with each other but the tools working with each other as well.
Dennis Kennedy: And I like the visual component, as you were saying in your example, Tom, that once you start to visualize this and in terms of a stack, you could sort of see what might be missing, how things relate to each other. I think when in the higher levels of my stack, I see them as reaching down into lower levels, you know, to pull out the information they need to display in certain ways, so you know, if you have a dashboard that’s reaching down and pulling things out in a different way, but you’re right. When I thought of collaboration, I’m like I couldn’t figure out exactly where to put it and maybe it needed to be, you know, several layers. And then I really hit on the metaphor, there was more like a connective tissue all throughout as you were saying, that the collaboration part these days is what kind of connects everything and if you start to think of it in those terms, then you look at all the components of what your stack is and say, “Hmm, am I using the collaboration elements, the collaboration features of what’s in that stack of those programs,” of that, you know, how of those modules, and using them to their fullest, and by seeing that collaboration as part of the stack, whether you’re weaving it through or having it as a layer or two, I think that helps you think through collaboration and where it fits.
And if you don’t, I think these days there’s so much collaboration that’s necessary, and it’s available, but if you don’t think it through and implement it well, you can be in a bad place even though you sort of have good intentions. But maybe that’s a subject for after the break time.
Tom Mighell: You know, and I think you’re right and I’ll just say that if you missed that collaboration element throughout your stack, I think that you tend to work more in silos, people have to use tools in different ways to see what you’re doing, you’re probably less productive because you aren’t using the tools together, instead using them separately. I think that productivity and a lot of other things suffer if you miss out on that collaboration element.
But we will cover a little bit more of that in our next segment, but before we do that let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsors.
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Dennis Kennedy: And we are back. Tom, let’s talk about some practical ways our listeners can start to think about their current and future tech stack and where collaboration now fits into it as compared to where it actually should? Would you start us off?
Tom Mighell: Yeah. So, I think that you and I are going to have almost the same answer to this but maybe using different language, and the way that I would think about this is I think you’re going to talk a lot about mapping, I’m going to talk more in terms of an audit, but I think we get to the same place eventually, which is to say first of all, what are your business processes? Look at the very bottom, the basic stuff of what you’re doing, you know, delivery of legal services, marketing and lead generation, billing and finance, human resources, some of those are the big business processes in a law firm, and then determine what apps, what platforms, what technologies each of the teams that owns those processes use on a daily basis. Figure out how they help the team work together, figure out what types of collaboration capabilities are there, does it meet the teams needs currently, or are their functions or features that are existing that can be used, then you’re doing a gap analysis audit.
Usually we’ll take a gap analysis into account as well, what are ways that people could better be using these tools to work together. So, you know, for example, having your CRM system, share information, whenever a client asks for information about the firm, let people know that so and so, just ask for that information so in case there’s some knowledge there that somebody can do, that’s a good point for people to understand, or even a bit more basic example, the ability of your document management software to create a workflow that enables you to pass a document from one team member to another for review or continue creation of a document without having to email it or send a link or anything, something that just automatically occurs, things that you’re missing to better work together, and think you’re probably going to want to talk to the members of your team to see what they think is missing in collaboration, and then either enable those features, look at whether new tools are required to create that connective tissue, or find ways to make the tools of your tech stack work better together.
So, that’s kind of my overall. I would put it more in terms of an audit. I think you may have a different terminology but I think we’re kind of getting at it from the same place, right?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s audit and assessment. So, what I like about this stack is it is a visual metaphor. So, I think what can be helpful is doing this simple mapping exercise, say, “Look, let’s figure out what’s there and let’s kind of map,” and let’s just kind of think through how things, you know, relate to each other, what supports something else, what’s on top, what’s on bottom like, you know, that sort of thing. It just kind of starts simple, get the big overview. It’s tempting I think just to start with your own personal tech stack. I mean, that’s why I did, to say, “Okay, so what is it that I have? I have some hardware and I have some software and I have some cloud services, and I’m trying to do different things,” and I have the second brain thing set up in notion, and where does that fit, and if I can sketch that out, for me I can see what’s there and what’s missing, and maybe where I don’t have things kind of organized in the right way. So, I think you can do that on your own. I think if you’re in any organization, your IT department should be able to basically do this for you.
And if they can’t or they say they can’t, that would raise some big questions for me because, to me, that’s sort of part of their job, is that they need to understand everything that’s going on. So, you may be able to get a lot of the information you need just from your IT department and then just start to play with it. And then, Tom, I think you said, it’s like once you kind of establish those layers in that map then you need to – these days, I think you just have to figure out where and how collaboration fits in, and if you’re not seeing it and you can’t draw it in there or it’s not part of your audit, in the way that you might do it, Tom, you just have to ask really hard questions about why it’s not there.
Tom Mighell: I agree. I think the only difference of opinion I would have with you on this is that, I agree that your IT department should be able to provide this for you, my only fear is that whatever IT provides for you is so highly technical that it’s hard for you to really understand what you’re looking at, is that they tend to go very technical. Maybe I’m overblowing that too much, but I feel like you and your teams doing their own analysis of what you have, now granted you all may not know what you have, that’s why working with IT is sometimes a good idea and you may not know all of the tools that you have.
So, I would at the very least encourage a collaboration between you and IT, maybe not ask them to do it alone and provide it to you but maybe find a way to make sure that the output you get from IT is user-friendly and is designed for a layperson to understand exactly what part is what, and as well because I worry that if it’s too technical then it makes it harder for you to try and figure out where collaboration comes in, where does it fit in in this place. So, it needs to be something that is easy for the users to take a look at and understand, and then make some good judgment calls about where collaboration fits in in any part of that stack.
Dennis Kennedy: And that’s I think – you know, one of my suggestions is that’s where you go, you know, you go Columbo and say, like, “You need to explain this to me in a simple way so that I can,” you know, “I can understand it, and I just have one more question,” and those sorts of things but – and you’re right, you just have to work together and say, “Like this benefits everybody if we can kind of get this all mapped out in a simple way that people can understand.
Then I think you go on to seeing where the collaboration connective tissue is missing, and to me that is in 2022, 2023, where you have collaboration features and that collaboration connective tissue missing, is where your short-term and long-term tech strategy has to be focused because I think, you know, the subtitle of the book, Tom, the ‘Smart Ways to Work Together’, you know, the subtitle could have been, “Make It Easy For People To Work With You,” because that’s where I think we have to be in this day and age.
Tom Mighell: And I think that’s a good way to wrap up this segment. So, let’s move on to our next segment but before we do that, let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsors.
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Tom Mighell: And now, let’s get back to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. It’s time for the segment we like to call “Hot or Not?” We pick a tech topic in the news and discuss whether it’s hot or not. We might agree, we might disagree, but you’ll get our insights and perspectives on the topic, and you are welcome to suggest future Hot or Not? topics to us.
Once again, there’s plenty to talk about Twitter adding an edit button to allow you to make changes after you have posted a tweet. Lately, it seems like there’s a lot of positive comments and interests in this edit button, even though it’s a very limited edit and will probably be part of a paid subscription. Tom, I actually don’t even know how many times over the years that Twitter has seemed to be close to adding this edit functionality, so I really don’t know what to expect this time. Do you think a Twitter edit button is hot or not?
Tom Mighell: So, first let’s understand exactly what Twitter is offering, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the news. They rolled out, and it is rolled out, it actually exists in the wild somewhere, a new edit tweet feature that lets some users modify a tweet within the 30 minutes following the tweet’s publication, and only a “few times.” They can only edit it a few times within that 30 minutes. Unclear what a few times means but it’s probably not unlimited editing.
Now for now, the service will be limited only to Twitter Blue members, which requires a subscription, and initially it’s just localized to a single country, and that country is New Zealand. Some of the articles talk about it being in U.S., Canada, and others. I’m not sure where they got that information. Twitter themselves said, “We are limiting it to one country,” and other stories have said that that one country is New Zealand, but it will be rolled out to more countries later. Anyway, with that said, do we care about the edit feature? I don’t. I really don’t.
I don’t tweet that often. I am typically, I try to be, fairly thoughtful about what I do. I mean, I think that when you have a limited number of characters and you’re trying to make that and you’re also trying to make sure that you don’t – you want to make sure that you don’t cause flame wars, that you don’t get people trolling you because of what you say, that has – I have been conditioned on Twitter to be thoughtful about how I compose my tweets. And so, I don’t generally worry about typos or saying the wrong thing, but I do think it’d be nice to have an undo feature in the rare case that I make a mistake. So, do I care enough about it to consider that it’s hot for me? No, the answer is no.
I think most people who would use the feature want it to correct typos, rephrase things that might be interpreted, update tweets as things change, of course over the course of 30 minutes. I’m not sure how useful that is. But I can also absolutely see people who will manufacture a tweet that goes viral and then they’ll abruptly edit that tweet to include some really terrible content that now millions and millions of people are going to see. I can see that this edit feature can be used for bad things, easily used for bad things.
You know, another issue I think is third-party apps. I haven’t used the actual Twitter app in forever. I prefer Tweetbot on my iPad. I know a lot of people still use TweetDeck which is actually a Twitter product, although Twitter has been talking nice to developers lately and they seem to indicate that the edit feature is coming to these apps, I’m not optimistic. They really haven’t rolled out many features to these apps. They’ve kind of left the developers out in the cold and I don’t know that that’s going to change any. I may be wrong, but I’m skeptical based on past history. A lot of people have been asking for this for a long time. So, although for me the edit feature may just be lukewarm for a lot of people, I think it’s hot, hot, hot. Dennis.
Dennis Kennedy: I agree with you that for some people they find it hot, and they have almost since the beginning of Twitter, think that would be like a great thing to have. I look at it and I go, to me, it’s like what – you know, is it a bug or is it a feature? I actually like the fact that you can’t edit, you know, for a number of reasons. Like, if I see I’ve made a typo, I just delete the tweet and retweet it. It’s not a big deal. And you’re right, like I’m not that concerned about typos. I make enough of them and it’s like part of, you know, my account’s personality. So, I’m okay with that.
The thing that does concern me and why I think that Twitter has backed away from the edit button for a long time is that somebody could tweet something, there’s a whole bunch of conversation, retweets, other things like that, they go back and change it to something completely different, and that’s not a place that’s very satisfying for anybody, you know? So, if you say, “Somebody tweeted this,” and you go, “They were wrong on this and they should have thought about this,” or you call them names, or whatever that people want to do and then they change it to something else, and then somebody goes back and looks at it, you as the retweeter, or commenter, or replier, you know, look like you’re the crazy one, you know, and people are going to be like, “Why did that do that?” You know?
So, I think they’re – you think that the edit button has some value and that’s why I think people think that it’s hot. I think that it makes Twitter way different to me, and I actually prefer the not having the edit button, you know. I’ll be embarrassed from my typos from time to time, that’s okay with me. So, whether I’m hot or not, I think it’s like there’s a group of people who think it’s hot.
And then, when I wrote the script which seems like just a week ago, Tom, that this is like really hot, getting a lot of attention on Twitter, and now like I don’t even see anything about it, so I’m going to go with it’s cool and that probably the rollout, the wide rollout of this, we’ll probably be talking about it coming about a year from now still. So, I think it’s going to be – I would put this in the cool category.
So, now it’s time for our parting shots, say one tip, website, or observation you can use the second this podcast ends. Tom, take it away.
Tom Mighell: So, in my personal life we’ve been thinking and dreaming about where we next will live. We’re not going to live here in Dallas forever. Where will we go? And I found this site that is actually kind of cool called MoveMap, movemap.io, and what it does is it allows you to filter out the best place to live based on your criteria. So, you can tell it whether you want to rent or buy, how much you want to pay in monthly rent, what you want your state tax burden to be, do you want the mountains or the oceans to be within an hour or three hours of where you are, do you care, what temperatures do you want, what demographics, how populous do you want it to be, what the politics are, do you want progressive, conservative, what do you want it to be like, are there hazards you want to avoid, and once you go through all of that, it will list out for you all the counties in the country that match your criteria.
I just have been doing it and I’ve narrowed it down to 37 countries – counties, excuse me. 37 counties in the United States that match my criteria, both of – which happened to be on both the West Coast and the East Coast because I want to be around oceans and mountains apparently. So, I think a very interesting way to kind of narrow things down and maybe learn about counties you didn’t know about, things that have their options out there that you didn’t know, but it’s an interesting exercise in learning about places around you based on what’s important to you and where you want to live. Dennis?
Dennis Kennedy: Yeah, I found that too, Tom. I liked that, kind of illustrates to me how I’m comfortably in the Midwest. I wish they had a few more factors and they were like a little bit more refined, but it’s fun, and I think that if you’re starting that process where you’re thinking, “Oh, here’s some place I want to move,” and you know, as there’s certainly, you know, a number of people thinking long-term about climate change and whether that might cause them to move, this is like an interesting little tool to play with.
Tom Mighell: To get started.
Dennis Kennedy: So, what I have is something Tom is actually kind of responsible for. So, the Legal Technology Resource Center’s Roundtable Discussion on the Law Technology Today blog was on personal knowledge management recently, in August. And so, there’s about half a dozen people weighing in on what they were doing for personal knowledge management, the tools they used, and I think that if you’re, especially in the legal setting, but anywhere else it’s kind of a nice discussion of some of the options that are out there and how people are dealing with that thing we like to call information overload.
Tom Mighell: Yeah. That was a lot of fun to put that together.
So, that wraps it up for this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Thanks for joining us on the podcast. You can find show notes for this episode on the Legal Talk Network’s page for this show. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, on the Legal Talk Network site, or in your podcast app of choice.
If you’d like to get in touch with us, remember, you can always reach out to us on LinkedIn or on Twitter. You can always leave us a voicemail. That number is 720-441-6820. We’d love to get your message, whether it’s for our B segment or just to shout out and say hey.
So, until the next podcast. I’m Tom Mighell.
Dennis Kennedy: And I’m Dennis Kennedy. And you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, a podcast on legal technology with an internet focus. If you like what you heard today, please rate us on Apple Podcast, and we’ll see you next time for another episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report on the Legal Talk Network.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Check out Dennis and Tom’s book, ‘The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together’ from ABA Books or Amazon, and join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, only on the Legal Talk Network.