The future for Legal KIM: An Outside/In perspective

I’ve long admired the work of Martin White on Information Governance, Intranets and Search and as Chairman of the Online Conference that used to be a must attend event at Olympia in December.  I fondly recall a Hilton Hotel, Heathrow T4 meeting at the end of the 90’s between the two of us and Gerry McGovern in which we hammered out the components of an Intranet checklist. And the horror at finding the parking bill was nearly as expensive as a tank of petrol.

We go back a long way, have worked on a number of assignments together and I once gave the Keynote Speech for Intranet Focus at the inaugural Russian Intranet Forum in Moscow where David Gurteen ran his first Russian Knowledge Cafe.

Martin and I meet regularly.  It’s one of the nicer aspects of working in alliance that you get to share ideas (within the bounds of confidentiality) with people you choose rather than those an organisation chooses for you.  In the Summer we met a couple of times to review experiences in Legal Knowledge & Information Management. I’d just given the Keynote speech at KM Legal and written a blog post while Martin was in the midst of a new assignment writing a digital workplace strategy for a prominent law firm.

Legal is changing, is KIM ready?

Martin too had noticed changes in the way law firms were working. As we compared notes we became aware that some of the knowledge management, information management and project management approaches that we had been using for many years might be unfamiliar to law firms. We decided to validate our conclusions by talking to some of our contacts in law firms and among the comments we noted were:

  • “We are great at capturing, not so great at sharing, especially when it comes to knowledge about clients”
  • “Too many people think that writing a project plan is all that is needed to make a success of Legal Project Management”

A couple of hours on 4 key topics

We have decided to set up a meeting at which we could share some of our experience with senior knowledge and information managers working in law firms. Our Breakfast Breakout will take place in the Benjamin Franklin room at the Royal Society of Arts on 9 December. Starting at 9.00am (but with breakfast at 8.30am) we will be covering (amongst other topics)

  • Knowledge Loss & Knowledge Gain,
  • Legal Project Management,
  • Getting the best from firm/client virtual teams
  • Stakeholder Engagement and Management

We will be talking about Knowledge Chameleons, the “Balloon on a Phone” and WTGTGQ – When They Go They Go Quickly. There will also be a chance to benchmark your own situation, though the Chatham House Rule will apply throughout the meeting. With just ten working days to Christmas we’ll provide a relaxed setting, no PowerPoint presentations, a good breakfast and an opportunity to support the PlanZheros charity instead of paying for a ticket. You will be able to be back at your desks by 11.00. The room will be set out cabaret-style and we’ll be moving everyone around after the mid-way break to foster networking.

How to register

Registration details will be posted here, on Twitter @pauljcorney and @intranetfocus in the next few weeks.

Donations to a charity

It being Christmas we decided instead of asking attendees to contribute to the cost of the event we’d invite them to make a donation to the Plan Zheroes charity I am a founding Trustee of. So much is happening on that front and the next three months are critical, we need all the help we can get to launch our new web/mobile presence.

“… a brilliant and eye opening experience”: using ‘The Apprentice’ format for a good cause

This quote, from one of the Accenture team who took part in a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) volunteer day in blistering conditions at Islington, London a few weeks back, was in response to a question I posed at the conclusion of the event:

Q) As you leave: if someone in the office asked you about the day what would you say?

A) ‘Was a great day with a chance to do some real good.’ was another participant’s reply.

Those who follow my musings will know how honoured I am to be invited to become a founder trustee of the charity PlanZheroes (PZ) who aim to help make use of surplus food. The CSR day, one of a number of imaginative ‘offerings’ PZ developed, gives organisations and their employees a chance to put something back into their community while concurrently testing their innovation, teamwork, sales, negotiation and project management skills in a real life setting.

‘…your task…’

To make the day really energetic PZ introduced an Apprentice-style competitive element. Fifteen people, three teams, three separate areas of London: Who will raise most awareness and get most businesses and charities added to the map?

I was there with CEO Designate Maria Ana Neves and a team from PZ whose role was to shadow the teams as they made their way around Islington and to provide input for the debrief session that was to end the day.

The 16 participants began by introducing themselves and noting something that others might not know about them. This was to prove a great kick off session, part of the briefing to equip them for the time they were about to spend out and about in Islington.  We asked later what they’d expected:

Q) On arrival what were you expectations?

A) I did not expect the day to be as organised as it was or to have such supportive helpers

fired up and ready to go

Briefing over and armed with PZ badges and little books each team spent a while perfecting their strategy, the messages they were going to give to the organisations they met and who would be doing what.  A large part of the challenge of approaching food outlets is to recognise that surplus food is a natural by product of the suply chain, hence we advised them to avoid using the word ‘waste’.


We were not to see them now for 5 hours so Maria Ana and I monitoroed their progress via Twitter and the PZ Map updated as contacts were made and organisations signed up.

The teams assembled back at base just before 4pm for the debrief. I asked them to use a timeline as a prompt to describe what happened, when and who was involved with a further commentary as to how they overcame difficult moments.

One of the team's timelines

One of the team’s timelines

Though lighthearted it gave the teams (and a senior manager who joined at this point) a chance to compare and contrast: what had worked and what hadn’t; where did they get pushback, from whom (and why)?

amazing results

Before revealing the results Maria Ana asked the teams to develop a one sentence ‘why we should win’ statement. The ‘results’ were amazing:

Announcing the scores

Announcing the scores

  • 14 new businesses on the map & 1 new charity sign-up
  • 35 businesses to follow up & 2 new charities to follow-up
  • one team even walked to Holborn to talk with Sainsbury’s head office
  • two teams got their lunches for free (or part of it!)
  • 130 mix of facebook likes and tweets/followers and we were told one celebrity chef is supporting us (details to find)

Perhaps the most value though comes from the way the teams come together and the roles they play throughout the day. Here’s a couple of responses to my question about role models:

Q) Role model: who did you admire during the day and why – tell us about what they did?

A) One memeber of the team really came out of their shell and were particularly confident when approaching businesses …

A) …The person was awesome and I think I have learnt some people skills that day.

To learn more about Plan Zheroes’ special days for volunteers and organisations please contract us via the PZ website

Brighton’s Food Waste Collective to run ‘making use of surplus food’ event

I met a woman last week in a cafe in Eastbourne.  Her name was Tam, a young Buddhist with a passion for helping others less fortunate. She is a member of the Brighton Food Waste Collective and she’d come from Brighton to interview me about the ‘making use of surplus food’ initiative I set up in Lewes in 2012.

Tam and her team are going to be running an event in a couple of week’s time which I’d heartliy endorse and not just because Maria Ana Neves of Plan Zheroes (she was a great hit in Lewes) is speaking.

food waste collective event posterTo be held at Brighthelm Cafe in North Road Brighton its going to be a real opportunity for donors and charities to come together and see how they might make use of a host of willing volunteers keen to make a difference.

In the hope it might help others who are thinking about a similar activity I want to share something from the excellent interview notes Tam took and published.

‘He said that there are the two ends, who wants and who has to give but it is the middle that creates the logistical nightmares – the getting the food from a to b. I talked about there having to have leaders and ideas people and the technology of the map but also we need the “foot soldiers” – the bodies, cars and bicycles to move daily food from a to b. This is what our event can find. People! Willing people! Hurray 🙂

Paul then asked if I would like some advice, I said yes please! He said “my experience tells me that…” in a nutshell he suggested starting small and high lighting six charities representing “demand”, and six restaurants or shops representing “supply” then set a finite time scale of six months to put only those twelve into action. Make pilot projects! Then he suggests we re-assess and see what has worked? What has failed? Why? He suggested treating it like a research project. He suggested using Google Groups (?) He said “Don’t spread yourself too thin!” Also, which I adored, “Don’t attempt to boil the ocean!”

Paul suggested making objectives: Can we identify the demand? Can we identify the supply? Develop a picture. Two ends – who wants? Who has to give? Make a brief: identify potential charities to supply to….

Paul talked about reverse brain storming – I love this – it’s a technique where you ask the people at the event “what are the best ways to prevent the food getting from a to b?” “How can we make sure the food is wasted/rots/has to go in the landfill?” “How would you ensure that the surplus food re-distribution chain would not work?” He described how he uses this technique in his professional life to get folks’ brains to work in a different way.’

Plan Zheroes is moving ahead apace with plans to be come a registered charity and I am honoured to have been invited to become one of the founding Trustees to provide a focus on knowledge sharing. This is what sets Plan Zheroes apart.  As its evolving technology platforms get completed it will be able to provide an instant view of where surplus food is located and so match the charities who need it with those who have it to give.  It’s skill is then in coming up with innovative solutions on how to get it from A-B.

And by making the knowledge of how to set up an initiative (and a guide for volunteer management) Plan Zheroes is attempting to help replicate the model (here and overseas) that is working so well in London.

Good luck Tam and the Brighton Food Waste Collective!

‘…if we want to give our customers choice we will produce surplus food.’

Recent tabloid headlines about how much food is thrown away provided a timely backdrop to a meeting held last Wednesday at City Hall by Plan Zheroes. In attendance were charities, soup kitchen, faith groups, donors (including Paul UK, Pret a Manger, ‘Corporate Catering’) and logistics organisations (including FareShare and Best Before) all keen to make use of surplus food to ensure as much as possible goes to those who could use it and not to landfill or as a component in the production of energy.

We were there to discuss the technological requirements for a new application that will radically improve communications between surplus food donors and recipients which is in development by an expert team from Ricardo-AEA, supported by WRAP. I was there on behalf of those organisations who’ve committed to being part of the Plan Zheroes movement in Sussex.

It was such a cosmoplolitan gathering with significant Gallic representation I thought I’d share a factional story from South West France to illustrate how technology can enhance the logistics chain for even the smallest of donations.

un petite Restos du Cœur?

In a small rural community near Toulouse its nearly closing time at the local supermarche. Mme St Arroman gets the sms message she’s been waiting for from the manager: today’s surplus food is 7 pains, 3 poulet rotis, a selection of legumes, some packed boeuf and 5 jambon fromage pizzas.

Enough she thinks to meet the requirements of the local sanctuary for the homeless who have grown in number since the austerity measures have started to bite. At least they’ll get a good meal tonight!

She makes her by now regular call to Yvette one of the dozen or so volunteers who collect the food and deliver it to the sanctuary and the other self help groups and charities supplied by those local food stores and restaurants who’ve agreed to donate surplus food.

While Yvette is enroute Mme St Arroman has been receiving messages requesting deliveries. She never imagined when she and a group of local women started this initiative a few years back that it would have taken off in this way and now she has the difficult decision of apportioning the food that has been gifted.

Early on they signed up many charities and faith groups keen to have supplies to augment other food donations. It worked well to start and the charities collected the food directly; then as they failed to show up the surpermarche and the bistro cafe (who’d also been a supplier) had staff waiting after hours facing a disposal problem.  Mme St Arroman and her team solved this by engaging with the local community and finding a number of volunteers willing to do the transportation. The locale municipality did its bit too gifting storage equipment such as a refrigerated van so the food was not degraded in transit.

They learned a great deal about human nature: one of the core prinicples of the using surplus food programme; that all gifted food must not be used for profitable activities was being flouted on a regular basis.  The offenders were removed from the programme. Another principle, that wherever possible all donations would be applied to charities and groups that aspired to get people back on their feet and not become dependent is being carefully monitored and progress being made.

On a wider scale in France the national Restos du Cœur movement comprises more than 40,000 of all backgrounds with one point in common: generosity devoid of political or religious points of view. Their actions are based on the Volunteers’ Charter, whose 6 guiding points guarantee the good working order of the organisation.

The Restaurants du Cœur (literally Restaurants of the Heart but meaning Restaurants of Love), commonly and familiarly known as the Restos du Cœur, is a French charity, the main activity of which is to distribute food packages and hot meals to the needy. It was founded by the comedian Coluche in 1985.

‘fog in the Channel, Europe cut off’

Back in blighty with the chattering classes debating the sanity of Prime Minister Cameron’s EU referendum speech it became clear to the assembled gathering that the ability to provide real time alerts (similar to the French ‘story’) is a critical requirement for the new application. The core functionality included:

  • measurement of the social and environmental impact
  • a mechanism for rating
  • a way of active virtual engagement and
  • alerts

Back in the summer the then Environment Minister Caroline Spelman convened a summit in London of interested parties in the food retailing and distribution chains aimed at creating among other things a food-share database. The event was duly recorded in The Daily Mail with the charities are supporting the introduction of a so-called Good Samaritan law which exists in the US, to ensure firms that donate food in good faith are exempt from legal action arising from any adverse consequences.

I note it here since some of the comments on the article were very revealing and with due acknowledgment to the Daily Mail I’ll quote an extract from one written by an ex employee of four of the supermarkets:

Contrary to popular opinion, supermarkets do NOT throw away decent food unless they have a bad store manager- why would a business want to damage their profit margins?- it’s rotten food being left ON SALE that’s the biggest problem!!

plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose

While last July’s developments seemed promising at the time its difficult to discern real action and for some reason I cannot shake off an image of the ‘clunking fist’ that is governmental bureaucracy preventing action. Yet back across the channel I discover French Law actually prohibits the donation of food to its employees on taxable benefit grounds which you would have thought plays into the hands of surplus food donations to charity.

and finally

Wednesday’s meeting revealed a host of people passionate about making a difference: Church groups who need another tea urn but who have an ingenious and simple measurement device to see how many people they are serving (count the cups!); mobile soup kitchens whose volunteers don’t have cars and who would love to do more if only they knew where demand is not being met; and food donors who hate any waste and will provide food that meets dietary and religious sensitivities.

What struck me is the level of commitment and ingenuity. The Plan Zheroes and Ricardo-AEA team who are going to be creating the application have a tough challenge ahead to match the aspirations of those who assembled at City Hall.

And in case you are wondering ‘…if we want to give our customers choice we will produce surplus food’ is a direct but unattributable quote from one of the delegates in response to a question as to why surplus food production occurs in the first place. The ‘fog in the Channel: Europe cut off’, is a play on the headline ‘fog in the Channel: continent cut off’ that appeared in the Dally Mirror in 1930.

Scoping recipient requirements

Scoping recipient requirements

eat or heat: making the most of surplus food in 2013

A perfect food storm in 2013?

The rising cost of energy, food and transport combined with an effective reduction in disposable incomes meant many people went without this Christmas. Add in the Government’s drive for savings in the benefits budget, the cap on housing benefit and insufficient social housing and there are all the ingredients for the perfect food storm in 2013.  For the first time food is being delivered to centres in Lewes and there is talk of a Food Bank being set up mirroring initiatives in Uckfield, Heathfield, Hailsham and across the South. Many are now making eat or heat decisions and the growth in the incidence of food shoplifting bears witness to an increasing sense of desperation.

FareShare, Foodbanks and Plan Zheroes

Schemes such as FareShare (surplus food logistics) and Tressell Trust (Food Banks) tackle this need by redistributing surplus packaged food and tinned goods donated by supermarkets, food outlets and faith centres that would otherwise have gone straight to landfill.  Despite this the UK Food industry still sends millions of tonnes of prepared and cooked food to waste each year.  A group of London citizens believed it didn’t have to be this way and set up Plan Zheroes a charitable organisation that helps redistribute surplus food from restaurants,  food retailers, cafes and supermarkets to charities who then use it to feed those who are struggling to feed themselves.

Its so simple: the donor registers as a regular or occasional donor and indicates what surplus they are likely to have and when; the recipient registers to receive food specifying the type and quantity they are likely to require and how they’d like to pick it up or receive it.

Plan Zheroes in Sussex

Now this scheme is operating in Sussex and this Monday the V-Project set up in Lewes by a group of youngsters keen to provide a space for peer mentoring became the first recipient charity to sign up to take surplus food from Lewes based donors, East Sussex County Council, The Pelham Arms and Le Magasin.

In partnership with FareShare, Brighton, PlanZheroes is working on setting up new supply chains in Newhaven with NCDA and The Foyer (Salvation Army Housing Association residence for young people) and Uckfield.  More charity recipients and food donors are needed in Brighton, Lewes, Newhaven and Uckfield; all it takes is a couple of minutes to register on the PlanZheroes food map which you can find via their website.

One of our strongest supporters has been Councillor Ruth O’Keeffe who apart from promoting the Plan Zheroes initiative via her Radio Lewes programme has set up a meeting early in 2013 to try and consolidate all the various actitivities around making use of surplus food: Ruth helped launch the FareShare deliveries to Lewes and works tirelessly to ensure the less fortunate members of her consituencies have food on their tables.

And finally during a visit to Waitrose Lewes on Sunday afternoon I came across dozens of ‘unwanted’ red cabbages that were marked down in price.  Thanks to one of the partners Nikki we are now in dialogue with their local management about enrolling them as an occasional donor working alongside their other surplus food distribution channels.