Lesson 1: Start with a coalition of the willing

In any adventure, there will come a time when you need to take that leap of faith and actually do what you’ve set you to achieve – you need to step off the cliff, take the plunge, and implement.

In the previous posts 1, 2 & 3, I’ve talked about things to think about before embarking on your innovation implementation adventure. In the next couple of posts I share some lessons I learnt overlanding – some the hard way – and how I applied the same lessons to implementing innovation in law.

LESSON 1: Start with a coalition of the willing

Hiding near Turpan (Xinjiang region far NW China) Photo by Alison Laird

It doesn’t matter if you work in a huge global firm, or a small boutique firm, when it comes to implementing change, one size will never fit all. Adapt your offerings for different practices and jurisdictions to ensure you get the required buy in and take up.

There’s a rule of thirds relating to change: one third of the people will be early adopters (we love them); one third will be totally resistant to change – those are the blockers I mentioned in Blog 3; and the third you want to start with, are the “undecided” in-between. If you can sway that middle third over the line, the blockers will be in the minority, soon left with little choice but to see the light persuaded by their partner peers.

To work on those undecided ‘middle-third’ partners, ensure you clearly outline the “what’s in it for me” benefits; be it transparency for clients, better managed expectations, less scope creep, reduced bill shock or more time and cost efficient services. And don’t forget, you’re often convincing partners, so don’t be afraid to throw in the benefit of more profit for the firm = more remuneration for the partnership.

Sometimes, though, it helps to find the path of least resistance to progress your new initiatives. That’s where your early adopters and supporters come in, the ones who just get it. These people become your coalition of the willing.

The road of least resistance (Taklamakan Desert, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, NW China) Photo by Alison Laird

Get them involved, give them your time, demonstrate results and quick wins early, and do something to help them; find out what their pain point is and solve it. They will soon become your primary promoters and champions. And we all know advertising by word of mouth is the best kind.

Perhaps pick a couple of well-respected high profile partners and take them on the journey with you from the beginning. If you’re really brave, start right at the top of the food chain, with the highest fee generating partner in the business – guaranteed s/he is pretty busy and would be unlikely to say no to an offer of help.

But what happens when things go wrong?


Read Part 5: Lesson 2:When things go wrong, don’t be afraid to try something different