Innovation defined – one sip at a time.

November 23, 2018

Ah, Innovation. Eternally Sexy. Relevant. Aspirational. Favourite Child. The Headline Act.

With the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution, hail the evergreen buzzword and business badge of honour. It’s like a powerful Silicon Valley channelling cocktail designed to be shaken and/or stirred, depending on its end consumer.

But what is innovation? And what is innovation in a legal context?

OK Google. Tell. Us. More.

Really simply, innovation is a new idea or method. It is the adoption of better solutions that meet new and unanticipated requirements, or existing ones.

For Google, innovation is about removing friction for users. Innovation for Google-rs bears a strong improvisational element. Anticipating is regarded as next level innovating.

Marissa Mayer, former CEO of Yahoo defines innovation as being born from the interaction between constraint and vision. CEO and Co-Founder of IDEO Tom Kelley regards cool technology alone as not enough[I]. It’s a way of thinking, as I touched on in my last blog post.

These definitions equally apply to lawyers and legal service providers.

Like our business colleagues and industry, we can find a better, faster, more efficient way to solve the myriad of problems which come across our hot desks. We too can benefit from being agile and modern to be able to more optimally respond to new requirements. We can reduce any friction experienced by the users of our legal services.

Think knowledge management, automation of agreements, digitisation of processes and risk assessments, machine learning, contract life cycle management, workload management, data collection and analytics, and so much more.

It goes without saying that adopting technology is the ultimate generator of efficiency for a legal team and its end consumer. How low or high tech you go just depends on the degree of efficiency which is desired, and the problem to be solved.

You don’t need to start with an outrageous ambition of being the next Netflix of the Law. There is huge merit in starting small but thinking big.

We may have to question and break some rules and then ask for grace afterwards, as we learn and iterate from our pilot efforts. But that’s the messy stuff of innovation everywhere.

Have some fun with it. See it as a phenomenal opportunity to grow and learn, personally and professionally, individually and as a team.

The critical take away here is that every innovation - shaken or stirred - begins with an unwavering willingness to making some changes. As a matter of priority. With a sense of urgency. Without overthinking it.

That’s why innovation in any context, but definitely in the legal mix, cannot be labelled and treated as a project if it is to be embraced sustainably.

It needs to be core. Part of the function's strategy. Part of performance appraisals. Part of your networking. Part of a team’s way of working and thinking. Part of everyday conversation. Normal.

Add the Legal innovation Kool-Aid to your cocktail list. After one sip, you won't want to drink anything else.

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This is a modified extract from my new e-book, Legally Innovative. You can discover it here.

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