Innovation and lawyering don’t always go hand-in-hand. However, any business growth guru (us included) will tell you that any business, in any industry, needs innovation to thrive. It’s through innovation that businesses gain and maintain a competitive edge, and law firms are not an exception to this rule.
In the legal sector, innovation ultimately enables firms to deliver better quality client services, more efficiently. It keeps law firms relevant in the rapidly-changing legal services landscape. Today, clients don’t just appreciate innovation—they demand it. So let’s give the people what they want! Here are five elements to help you create a culture of innovation at your firm:
1. Empowerment, empowerment, empowerment: We love employee empowerment. We love employee empowerment so much, in fact, that it’s part of our company name. When it comes to driving innovation, there is no faster way to stomp out the sparks of ingenuity than by failing to empower your people. Firms spend thousands of dollars finding, recruiting and hiring top legal talent—don’t waste your investment by telling these highly qualified people where to go and how to get there.
2. Acknowledge hard truths: Not every innovative idea is going to be a success—and if they were, how would you learn and grow? Failure is not the problem; failing to recognize when a project or initiative is dead in the water…is. Cut your losses, stop hemorrhaging resources, analyze why the project failed and what your team has learned as a result, and move on to the next innovative idea.
3. Foster a sense of community: Often times, innovation leads to change—and that is a scary prospect to many employees and leaders alike. However, when your team takes a collaborative approach to brainstorming or problem solving, the feeling that they are all in it together can overcome the fear of impending change and propel your firm towards game-changing innovation.
4. Set challenging goals: Simply stated, challenging goals push employees to perform at extraordinary levels. Challenging goals force innovation. Any firm can set goals that are realistic and easily-achievable. Truly innovative firms, however, will push their people into that sweet spot where a difficult objective results in the development of nontraditional solutions to traditional challenges.
5. Invest in leadership development: Without great leaders, innovation is sure to stall out. The leader(s) at your firm must be passionate about and capable of empowering employees. They must be able to humbly and graciously accept failure. They must be able to bring a team together, and set aggressive goals for them to reach. Do you trust your leaders to make decisions in the ambiguous situations that innovation will most likely create? Do your leaders have what it takes to make spur-of-the-moment choices, without much data to support those choices? Our Team Empowerment Academy is a virtual training and development program designed to equip leaders and employees with the tools and techniques they need to bring their careers and your firm to the next level—learn more about this one-of-a-kind program here.
If you think your law firm is exempt from the need to innovate, think again. Innovation is a requirement in today’s ever-changing legal environment, and your firm’s ability to gain competitive advantage and remain relevant absolutely depends on it.