From LexisNexis With Love: why Bond's 'Q' would be a great knowledge manager

Q Article (KMI6) WordpressIf you’re a fan of the Bond movies you’ll know that ‘Q’ (for ‘Quartermaster’) is head of the British Secret Service’s (fictional) research and development faculty known as the ‘Q Division’. His main function is to use his genius to supply Bond with a steady stream of gadgets to keep him one step ahead of evil villains with steel teeth and fluffy white cas.

But what is it about his approach that has kept Bond alive and kicking through so many scrapes? And what does all this have to do with knowledge managers?!

1. He uses his genius to bring out the best in others

Q is a genius. His knowledge appears to span every aspect of engineering and design one can contemplate. However, it is not his knowledge that helps 007 secure victory for the plucky Brits time after time. Rather, it’s the gadgets he creates with that knowledge - and 007's ability to use them.

Now, we’re not about to suggest that you hand an exploding pen to any of the lawyers you work with (sorry)! Like Q, knowledge professionals must go beyond the reactive provision of know-how and find ways to source and/or create resources and tools that enable their own field agents to make the best use of their particular skills:

Like Q, knowledge professionals must go beyond the reactive provision of know-how and find ways to source and/or create resources and tools that enable their own field agents to make the best use of their particular skills:

Happily, most knowledge managers are already doing this to some extent. Examples include:

  • finding; championing and delivering training on the best research tools;
  • turning raw data into actionable learnings e.g. by applying big data tools to the huge volumes of data that legal work generates in order to find new insights about cases, clients or competitors; and
  • gathering and sharing intelligence e.g. by curating and maintaining internal networks and databases; and keeping abreast of new technologies which offer smarter tools to assist with core activities such as e-disclosure or drafting.
2. He knows what Bond needs before he does

In a typical Bond film, the first scene after the opening sequence is a briefing with the MI6 crew. Once briefed by ‘M’ (the head of MI6), 007 is typically taken to the Q Division for a first look at the new gadgets and vehicles he will be supplied with.

By the time 007 arrives on the scene, Q has digested the mission objectives, identified the major challenges and built the tools 007 will need in order to overcome them (plus a few more besides). In the same way, the best knowledge managers are always looking for ways to be proactive, rather than reactive.

In the same way, the best knowledge managers are always looking for ways to be proactive, rather than reactive.

This could involve finding and distributing news and alerts about clients or practice areas before the lawyers have even made their morning coffee or presenting colleagues with technology-based opportunities with the potential to solve problems lawyers didn’t even know they had.

3. He has learnt to K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid).

The flash, big-ticket items - the boats, the planes and, of course, the cars - are what many people would imagine if asked to think of the toys in a Bond movie.

More often than not however, it’s small, everyday things that have the biggest impact - often saving Bond’s life.

Nevertheless, many if not most of these – such as rocket-belts, camera guns and bag-pipe flamethrowers – were entertaining but somewhat frivolous.

However, in his latest incarnation (played by Ben Whishaw), Q is far more focussed on doing the basics well:

Importantly, his focus is on giving Bond the tools he needs to do his job effectively – not on creating technology and then looking for an application to justify its existence. Similarly, a good knowledge manager will primarily look to source and/or create tools which assist lawyers to carry out their core activities smarter and more efficiently.

Importantly, his focus is on giving Bond the tools he needs to do his job effectively – not on creating technology and then looking for an application to justify its existence. Similarly, a good knowledge manager will primarily look to source and/or create tools which assist lawyers to carry out their core activities smarter and more efficiently.

From LexisNexis with love

So, knowledge managers, there you have it.

You’ll now be able to start any future explanation of your role with “you know that genius who makes all of the cool gadgets in 007…”.

You're welcome!

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