Some of you are likely sick of hearing about the need for law firms to innovate; others are wondering what on earth that actually means; still more of you are struggling to figure out how to move a culture steeped in tradition and governed by a loose group of partners to drastically different ways of thinking and operating. It probably feels like an uphill battle.
It can seem puzzling to understand innovation in a purely services-based organization. Innovation seems to make sense when we are thinking about products, like the iPhone, or other technologies like Twitter, Facebook, Google search, etc. But innovation in SERVICES? What does that really look like?
Let's not kid ourselves. Innovation isn't an easy thing to do. But comparatively, Law Firm innovation can seem so difficult it might seem like an oxymoron.
As I ponder the conundrum of innovating inside of law firms, it has caused me to pause and reflect upon what has prompted the innovations Elegrity has made in our 15 years working with law firms and other corporations.
In these reflections, I realized there are varying factors that have prompted our innovations. "Necessity is the mother of invention" jumps out quickly. Survival in the technology business is based on innovation. No innovation, no business. So there is that. But then I realize that necessity has served more as a motivator than the actual root cause of innovation.
Continued reflections highlight the fact that some of our innovations are based on adapting and integrating innovations of other technology companies to produce innovative solutions - that is, taking tools and actually building something from them. Sort of like taking the various components that make up a house and then architecting and building a unique, one of a kind creation.
Still, though, this doesn't get to the crux of it. Then it occurred to me - if I look back on our years of work with customers and prospects, what are the things that THEY perceive as 'differentiators' of Elegrity's products and services? Now, the 3 key factors come into focus.
3 Key Factors for Innovation
- We listen INTENTLY to our customers and prospects. Not just to what they are saying, but 'through' what they are saying - looking for root causes behind their pain points, not just to the symptoms themselves.
- We have EMPATHY for our customers and prospects and their specific challenges and strategies. We know that to help them implement their strategies and overcome their barriers, we have to take our experience and solutions and morph them to match their specific needs.
- We DELIVER value through meaningful collaboration with our customers and prospects. And for our law firm customers specifically, we consciously do so incrementally, helping executives introduce fundamental business shifts in palatable bites based on the culture of their firms. We see ourselves as true business partners to our clients. We care about their business and their success. We know it is our responsibility to bring our experience and knowledge to the table to combine with theirs - and so, we innovate together, collaboratively, over the long term.
In the last couple of years, specifically, I have learned to stop thinking about innovation. Instead, I trust that it will naturally occur as we LISTEN with EMPATHY to our customers, prospects and THEIR customers and prospects. True empathy means we must be students of their industries and the changes they are experiencing. As their needs and business environments change and evolve, so must our our services and solutions be reinvented, restructured, adapted - INNOVATED.
So law firms - fret not as innovation is infinitely achievable. If you listen with empathy to your customers and prospects; if you study the environments in which they are operating and apply your unique experience to help them anticipate what challenges they will face, or new strategies they must think about incorporating - YOU WILL INNOVATE - naturally.
The Bottom Line
Innovation is an outward-looking result, not an inward-looking one. Oh, and by the way, overly paying attention to what other law firms are doing is an inward-looking approach – not to mention the fact that it fosters a follower mentality. Both of which are dangerous threats to innovation.
Read more about Elegrity’s thought leadership for law firm innovation and competitiveness by downloading our complimentary e-books and whitepapers on the subject. Here are a couple of starters: