Change is on the agenda
What does the future hold for your business? If I had a precise answer to that, I might be rich! What I do know is that it will involve innovation and change. In order to survive any business needs to be creative: NOW! That’s a bit like being asked to tell a joke isn’t it? The mind goes blank and every amusing thought you ever had eludes you. Unless you are highly artistic, pressure is unlikely to bring out your creative side.
Making professionalism & creativity compatible
Post LSA, there is much talk about babies going out with bath water. “Consumers” and “market shares” are not necessarily palatable terms to people who believe that they embody the values of a worthy profession. This opposition to change is anathema when it comes to making positive change. Identify your values, by all means. Embody your values, do. But do recognise that they are outcomes, ultimate ends, not necessarily the means to the end in themselves.
Are we, in fact, all doomed?
That said, when dedicated professionals of the likes of Tooks Chambers are throwing in the towel, it is entirely understandable that lawyers are coming over all Private Frazer from Dad’s Army, declaring, “We’re all doomed I tell you! Doomed I tell you!” This kind of thinking is, of course, the opposite of what is required when trying to generate new approaches to problems.
Its as though someone has said, “I bet you can’t tell a joke”. Very probably, in that moment, you can’t. Likewise, the urge to think creatively vanishes in the presence of negative thinking and pressure. You don’t need to come over all artistic and demand whale-song and wild flowers. You do need to be authentic in your desire to allow people to collaborate, explore ideas and make mistakes.
Any quick fixes?
Two common approaches to trying to free up ideas which have their short-comings are, (1) the away day and (2) the idea that you can buy-in creativity. Both are better than nothing. Both also smack of ducking responsibility for generating real change. Lawyers have to take responsibility for creating change day-to-day in the way they work. Getting ideas flowing on an away is fine, but take it back to the office and do something! Buying-in talent is a great idea, but the talent cannot do it alone. They are the catalysts. The lawyers who deliver the business every day are the agents of change.
To engage people in being entrepreneurial and making your business work, I recommend the following;
- Ask the question, “Would you recommend this business as a good place to work?”
- If the answer is “yes”, then what makes it so? Are you communicating that positive message to your clients? Are you encouraging them to be proactive about using your services? How could things be even better?
- If the answer is “no”, then what makes it so? What needs to change?
- Make collaboration a priority. Allow people who do not usually work together, and who do not have any previous experience of the issues in question, and give them permission to think.
- Do not expect miracles; encourage ideas which may develop into practical solutions.
- Use your leadership skills to implement the ideas you think might have legs.
- Understand what innovation means to the people directly affected and get them on-board.
- Feedback the positive outcomes of change and recognise those who contributed to making it a success.
The expectation that every lawyer has the innate skills to be entrepreneurial is misguided. Professional development, self development, personal development, call it what you will, but it needs to embrace people skills. Collaboration and communication are key. They start with understanding what you have to offer and how you work best with others. We can help with that. Give us a call.