LESSON 2: When things go wrong, don’t be afraid to try something different

In Lesson 1 I talked about the importance of starting your innovation adventure with a coalition of the willing. These allies become even more important as you progress through implementation and things start going awry.

As with an overlanding adventure, so too in implementing change, or innovation in a law firm, you are bound to hit some brick walls (or boulders, or landslides, or snow!).

Your role is to work with the lawyers to find alternative solutions. Never pass the buck. Never say “that’s not my job”. Always say “yes” and then find a way to get it done. This way you’re seen as the invaluable “go to” person.

If things do go wrong – and sometimes they will – it always helps to take a step back and reflect: was the product fit for purpose; was there a communication gap; or did the technology fail? What needs to be done to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Turn failures into opportunities to learn and grow.

Sometimes looking at things from a different perspective is the answer (Kashgar, China) Photo by Alison Laird

Maybe try a different tack. For example, one way to sell the benefits of Legal Project Management (LPM) to partners is by explaining how they already do it. Any partner who has managed a matter, scoped a job, allocated work, communicated with a client, is already doing LPM. So this ‘innovation’, isn’t new or scary, but maybe, just maybe, we can help you do it even better?

Or when convincing a partner to try something new with a client – change the words you use to reduce the fear of failure. Instead of delivering the client something from your “value-add catalogue” with a ‘here’s something I prepared earlier’ attitude, try ‘experimenting’ with something new.  Agree to collaborate with the client on an experiment to build a bespoke solution to their problem. If it doesn’t work, then it was the experiment that failed, not you, or the client. Agree to focus on the lessons you learn to improve the next project you collaborate on.

Remember to fail fast to succeed sooner.

Don’t wait until something is perfect. Try it out, test it, involve the client early, build your successes and failures together. Not only will you build a better relationship, but you’ll also build the best solution.

Thomas Edison once said: Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

But how do you maintain your resilience when things go wrong?


Read Part 6: Lesson 3: Above all else, be resilient