Wilkinson Keynote: Entrepreneurial Skills for Knowledge Sharing #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description:

Sharing knowledge for enterprise success requires entrepreneurial skills, new ways of thinking and operating, continuous learning, and change. There are many new tools available to help, but it is the people and the culture of an organization that determines its ultimate success. Wilkinson interviewed 200 of today’s top entrepreneurs, including the founders of Airbnb, LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Yelp, Dropbox, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, Chipotle, Under Armour, Spanx, Jetblue, and Revolution Foods, to distill what it takes to go from startup to scale in our rapidly changing economy. As leaders reinvent their approaches to digital transformation for organization survival in this economy, they can learn these fundamental skills, practice them, and pass them on. Join our accomplished researcher and speaker as she shares her framework and provides ways to master the skills that underlie entrepreneurial success.

Speaker: Amy Wilkinson, Founder & CEO, Ingenuity and Lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business; Author, The Creator’s Code: Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2018 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Find the Gaps.
    • Be curious:
      • children ask 100 questions per day; adults ask 2-3 questions per day. This is due, in part,  to our development of expertise, which leads us to create our own silos. This, in turn, becomes our Achilles heel that stops us from becoming innovators and entrepreneurs.
    • Be an architect:
      • Look for the open space: find a green field on which to build.
        • Elon Musk — see a problem and then go back to first principles to solve it. He saw that space shuttles were like airplanes that were thrown away after every flight. He thought this made no sense. So he started SpaceX to figure out how to make cheaper, reusable shuttle.
      • Solve a problem for yourself and then scale the solution for others.
        • Sara Blakely — she solved the pantyhose/underwear problem for herself. Because she was the first woman to tackle this problem, she had a real challenge convincing the men in the industry. So she did it herself: she taught herself how to file a patent application, her mother (an artist) drew the schematic. Blakely kept going until she found a manufacturer with daughters who was willing to listen. She persisted.
    • Be an integrator:
      • Look for opportunities for innovation at the intersection of disciplines, industries, markets.
      • Chipotle: the founder was a classically trained chef. He wanted to create fast meals from fresh food. So he mashed together his classical culinary training with the fast food process. This created a restaurant at which a chef would be willing to eat.
  • Drive for Daylight. In this fast-moving world, act as if you are in a race car. You have to focus on the horizon, not on what is right in front of us. Typically, most businesses focus on what is right around them or, worse still, they focus on the rearview mirror.
    • Avoid Nostalga: you can’t be nostalgic about the past  — especially if you’ve had tremendous success. Netflix had big success with DVD by mail but overcome customer protests to move from that to streaming.
    • Fire yourself: Andy Grove at Intel used to talk about the importance of “firing yourself.” They asked themselves (when they thought they might be fired becuase of the poor performance of their business), what would our successor do? The answer was to get out of the old business and then move into the microprocessor business. This led to extraordinary growth.
    • Be prepared to cannibalize your own products — Apple does this time after time.
    • Focus on “to go” rather than “to date.” This keep your focus forward — on the problem you need to solve, on the product you need to ship. This allows you to meet your near-term goals.
  • Fly the OODA Loop. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
    • Eventhough the Russians had better fighter planes, the American air force has maintained
    • Paypal: they merged two businesses and then went through 6 different business models in 18 months.
    • Paypal Mafia: then after they sold PayPal to eBay, they all tried new ventures and have been successful.
      • Jeremy Stoppelman: The first thing you try likely will not work. So look for a “counterintuitive blip of data” that could point to a new, more profitable path.
      • Always have a wingman: this is someone who will question your assumptions and help improve your thinking
    • Startups view business as a form of intellectual debate. This enable fast action. In a large organization, people aim for consensus. However, this can be too slow in a fast-moving world.
  • Fail Wisely. This goes beyond failing fast. Have a failure ratio (e.g., 1/10 things I try won’t work or 1/3 things I try won’t work.) The key is NOT to aim for zero. This means that you are aiming for perfection, which will shut down your innovation and risk-taking.
    • Place small bets:  don’t put all your money on one bet. Place small bets on several opportunities.
      • Stella & Dot: their ratio is 1/3. She counts on her team to make fast decisions on new products: “love it or lose it”
    • Titanic Example: You know you have a catastrophic problem (e.g., you’ve hit an iceberg). You know how many people you have and you know how many lifeboats you’ve got. What do you do?
      • Reframe the problem: switch from saving the ship to saving lives. Then you use the lifeboats as ferries to move people from the ship to the iceberg where they can stay until rescue boats arrive.
      • Repurpose what you’ve got: Look for alternatives that can function like life boats (e.g., anything that floats will work — tables, doors, etc.)
  • Network Minds. We need to focus on cognitive diversity, not just visible diversity. The goal is to harness different points of view and then build on that.
    • IDEO Approach: use space
    • Amazon’s two-pie rule: they want folks to work in teams — but small teams that can be fed by two pizzas. Then they get to know each other and can get things done.
  • Gift Small Goods. Provide small kindnesses to others. Do five-minute favors. This helps amplify your reputation because of connectivity. Then information, opportunities come to you.
    • Generosity enhances productivity — Bob Langer at MIT is always trying to amplify the work of his students in their drive to ending human suffering. The are regrowing human tissue (including vocal chords for Julie Andrews and Larry Page). They produced the nicotine patch. They have developed many innovative delivery mechanisms for cancer treatment.
    • Focus on the “snuggle for existence.” This will help enormously with the struggle for existence.
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Engaging Lawyers, Clients and Vendors to Adopt AI into Workflows

This session focuses on the White & Case LLP Practice Innovation Group and how it engages lawyers, clients, and vendors to adopt AI into workflows.

Speakers:

  • Oz Benamram, Chief Knowledge Officer, White & Case LLP
  • Monet Fauntleroy, Senior Manager, Practice Innovation, White & Case LLP

[These are my notes from the 2018 Ark Group Conference: Knowledge Management in the Legal Profession.  Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error.  Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Drivers
    • Improving client service
    • Managing peer pressure
    • Finding global solutions
    • Solving a real problem
    • Engaging associates
  • Current Use Cases
    • Document review (eDiscovery, due diligence)
    • Contract analysis
    • Drafting automation
    • Legal research
    • Matter analytics
  • It takes a LONG time
    • Training the machine typically takes 6 months.
    • In law firms, machine training takes an additional 6 months. There will be a further 6 months if lawyers need to do the training.
  • Learnings
    • The more the lawyers understood what the tool could do the better they could help.
    • Don’t fall into a people-pleasing mode that causes you to stretch the tool to do an extra 20%.
    • Strike the right balance in involving partners in the effort. Sometimes associates are a little closer to the workflow.
    • Create an onboarding process early. Make sure you involve the right people from the vendor (e.g., a success lead)
    • Create appropriate workflows to support the innovation (e.g., can you handle questions through the existing help desk ticketing system?)
  • Innovation
    • When clients say “innovation” they mean “exactly the same, but faster and cheaper.”
    • When KM says innovation, they understand that there is a significant risk of failure.
  • Governance
    • Taxonomy may not be sexy but it is critical for good governance maintenance
  • Awareness
    • External awareness: as a community we should talk to each other and to our communities about the real story behind the tech press releases.
    • Internal awareness: you need to keep making internal presentations about your existing tools and services. This is particularly the case with your AI efforts. The lawyers and clients want to know.
    • Client awareness:
      • bring in exciting speakers and invite clients
      • host ideation days for your clients — this give you insight into client problems and frustrations

Session Description:

Oz Benamram, will walk through the Firm’s Practice Innovation team journey to implement LawGeex, an AI-empowered tool for reviewing contracts. The challenges included introducing a new type of client and use case to the vendor (who was used to dealing with in-house counsel) as well as keeping the legal team excited about the project throughout the vendor selection, training and evaluation phases… not to mention ultimately changing how the team works.

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Stop Failing At Failing

With the rise of digital startups, we have become used to hearing about the need to fail fast and fail often. And we have told each other repeatedly that failure is important, failure is necessary, failure is good.

So why do we resist failure?

Because we are not stupid!

The reality is that despite all the cheap talk about the usefulness of failure, few of us find ourselves in organizations that actually put their money where their mouth is. For example, how often does your boss commend you for failing? Or, does your organization’s performance management system regularly reward you for failure?

No? I thought not.

In the absence of a supportive boss and performance management system, why risk your career by failing? Wouldn’t the wiser course be to play it safe, even if it means that you rarely experiment or innovate? After all, curiosity killed the cat!

While being risk-averse may seem like the safer path in the short term, it is a death sentence for your organization over the longer term. Without experimentation, innovation, and a healthy dose of curiosity, everything stagnates — people, processes, and organizations. And, instead of moving ahead or even just keeping up, they simply fall behind.

As Ellen Glasglow wisely observed:

The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.

So if we want to avoid the deadly rut, what should we do? Stop failing at failing and learn to do it better.

There are reliable techniques that help us understand how to fail in smarter ways and how to use those failures to make ourselves and our organizations better. We have learned the value of safe-to-fail experiments, failure targets, and failure parties. But that is only the beginning. At KMWorld 2018, I’ll be leading a workshop entitled From Failure to Fantastic that explores more techniques we can use to get the indisputable benefits of failure without unduly suffering its negative consequences. These techniques are borrowed from a variety of professions and industries, including medicine and oil and gas.

I hope you will join me at the workshop so that we can help each other stop failing at failing.

[Photo Credit: Makunin]

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Happy 10th Anniversary!

On January 21, 2008, I tried something new. I blogged for the first time.

My reasons for starting this blog were fairly simple. I realized there was an interesting conversation happening online about technology, knowledge management, innovation, and collaboration; however, I did not have any way to be a part of it. At the time, the best way into the conversation seemed to be through blogging. So I started blogging.

Over the intervening 10 years, I’ve had more than my fair share of fascinating conversations thanks to this blog. I’ve also discovered that my approach to blogging provides the collateral benefit of really expanding my education. This is due in large part to my tendency to be a knowledge broker. According to Professor Andrew Hargadon (UC Davis), brokers learn from domains outside their own and then bring that new learning back to their own domain. For him, this is a critical element of innovation: “…revolutionary innovations do not result from flashes of brilliance by lone inventors or organizations. In fact, innovation is really about creatively recombining ideas, people, and objects from past technologies in ways that spark new technological revolutions.”

Understanding that information for information’s sake is not as powerful as information put to use, Hargadon has identified the powerful role brokers play in creating social networks that can spread new information and put it to work: “…brokers simultaneously bridge the gaps in existing networks that separate distant industries, firms, and divisions to see how established ideas can be applied in new ways and places, and build new networks to guide these creative recombinations to mass acceptance.”

Tracking just one idea shows the power of combining brokering with a network. Take the example of the Failure Party. I learned about the failure party phenomenon through conversation with someone in the pharmaceutical industry. Further research turned up a 2004 article in the Wall Street Journal. Given the clear benefits of failure parties, I was surprised that I had never heard of them in the legal industry. So, putting on my knowledge broker hat, I wrote: “Host a Failure Party” in 2009. While I’m not willing to claim cause and effect, I will note that since that post the International Legal Technology Association’s annual conference has included several failure party sessions and one city-wide group of law firm KM professionals hosts an annual failure party.

Blogging is an inherently social practice for me. It is an opportunity to share information, shape debate, and expand horizons. In the process, I’ve been truly grateful for the response of my readers. Some of you retweet my posts or email them to colleagues. Others send me private messages letting me know when a particular post struck a chord or was helpful. One friend and colleague sent me the following text message in response to my blog post, “Pick a Fight in 2018“:

Happy New Year Mary! Once again I am inspired by your blog. I definitely have a few fights to pick in 2018! Thank you for your generous inspiration! All the best to you and your family.

This message arrived out of the blue and is one I will treasure. When I write I have no idea sometimes if any of it helps anyone else. So I truly appreciate hearing from my readers and seeing ideas from this blog gain traction.

Let me end where I should have begun — by thanking my readers. You have been amazing partners on this journey. I look forward to the adventures the next 10 years together bring. Thank you!

[Photo Credit: Photo by Joseph Chan on Unsplash]

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How KM Enables Innovation #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: 

Most companies struggle to find ways to embed innovation into their business. This talk shares the journey of establishing a grassroots movement—a journey fueled by innovation, knowledge sharing, and learnings, and the critical success factors discovered along the way.

Speakers:

  • Wendy Woodson, Director, Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Kim Bullock, #innovation Catalyst, ExxonMobil

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • How They Approach Innovation.  There are multiple kinds of innovation — not just transformational, game-changing innovation. Instead, they use the following model [see Managing Your Innovation Portfolio]
    • Transformational Innovation
    • Adjacent Innovation — taking what you do well and moving into a new market
    • Core Innovation — improving your bread and butter functions — this area is ripe for smart KM
  • Brutal Truths:
    • Culture & Behaviors. These beliefs and behaviors are so deeply ingrained in the organization that they can be extremely difficult to identify and excavate, much less reform.
    • Politician & Magician. We are always selling (politician), we’re always performing (magician).
    • Art not Science. There is not a single best approach to innovation. The key is to find business problems worth solving and then working with the affected group to improve their situation. The speakers spoke about a project they did to reduce the burden of exception reporting from  70% of the avaialble time to 30% of available time. This translated into a significant improvement in the quality of life.
    • Warrior. We have to be very thick-skinned and ready to fight for attention, for support, for successful projects. KM often is considered a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.”
  • Opportunity. For all of the brutal truths, the speakers believe that there is tremendous opportunity in KM for rewarding work.
  • Critical Success Factors.
    • External Network. Just as you create your internal network within your organization, intentionally create an external network that can be the source help, information, and commiseration.
    • Brutal Truths. Be honest about the Brutal Truths discussed above. And be very forthright about your projects and progress. And be very honest with your leadership. They need to know.
    • The Middle Matters. We usually tend to start by looking for support from senior champions or at the grassroots level. However, the middle managers are influencers who often are ignored. The speakers focused on the middle managers — they were explicit about exactly what they expected in terms of influencing up and influencing down.
    • Attention, Attraction, Adoption.
      • Attention — use standard marketing tactics to get their attention
      • Attraction — explain what you are offering and how you can help
      • Adoption — get down to brass tacks, find an issue you can work on with the business, get it done, and then repeat.
    • Tell the Story. Rather than just insisting that KM is good, collect and share the success stories. Capture them in an article, record videos. Both of these are more contagious that assertions by KM.
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You’ve Created an Innovative Product/Service – Now What? #ILTAG122 #ILTACON

Session Description: As more law firms experiment with innovation by delivering their services in new and interesting ways, many encounter logistical challenges. How do you price the products/services in a market bereft of competitors? How should you go about positioning and selling these innovations? How will you maintain and scale operations to keep the product/service updated? What’s the best way to deliver support for the new product or service? We will answer these questions and more as we present real-world examples of innovative products and services that have been attempted and actualized.

Speakers:

[These are my notes from the International Legal Technology Association’s 2017 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Background.  The firms of these speakers are at different stages of innovative product development.
  • First Things First.
    • Making the Business Case
      • Define the value to the firm
        • how does this move the needle for the firm?
        • Will it be a value-add, a revenue-generator?
        • Does the value warrant the level of effort the project is likely to require?
        • How do you balance benefit to the firm and benefit to a smaller group within the firm (e.g., a partner’s vanity project)
      • Include the client point of view — this may be uncomfortable because it likely will require changes in the way your firm has always delivered legal services.
  • Governance.
    • Define governance and the decision-making process
    • Identify key stakeholders who should be involved — be prepared to include a wider group of stakeholders than you would normally involve.
      • it is better to have them in the tent early than have them torpedo the project later
    • Determine Go/No Go
      • a strong business case is critical for buy-in
      • be prepared for naysayers — sometimes they signal their lack of support early in the project so be alert and address their concerns early
      • collaborate early and often
      • be willing to experiment, which means being willing to fail
        • sometimes this means “going rogue,” operating under the radar until you have useful project data to share with the fim
        • this requires having some buy-in from firm leadership to provide the latitude for action and resources
  • Adoption/Change Management
    • any time you create a product or service that will disrupt current products and services, you should expect significant pushback
    • develop a change plan prior to launch
    • identify and secure commitments from internal champions
    • consider engaging a third party change management consultant — especially if the disruption you are planning will have a major impact internally
  • Create strong internal marketing and communications
    • be transparent from the beginning
    • be sure to explain “what’s in for me” — from the perspective of everyone who is likely to be affected by the change
      • this is especially important if the product/service is likely to reduce billable hours
        • in this case, focus on the longer term benefits to the firm
        • bring evidence to the audience — market research and peer evidence (from other partners or even other firms)
    • attorneys are on the front line — they need to have enough information to market it to each other and to their clients
    • keys to success
      • know your audience
      • have a strong messaging/communication plan
      • focus on education
      • use multiple resources — videos, case studies, talking points, pricing, contact info for the dedicated sales team, etc.
        • create an internal, central place where attorneys can find all the resources they need in single place
    • Don’t rely solely on email — in many firms people are already inundated with email. Therefore, travel to your offices and schedule in-person meetings.
  • External Marketing and Communications.
    • use experience data to drive strategy — this means that you REALLY have to get to know your buyer and their sales cycle, and then align your marketing/sales plan to that cycle
    • create a realistic action plan
      • test the waters before a major launch — even asking clients for their thoughts on the planned product/service
      • don’t forget to use indirect marketing as well — put clients in touch with other clients who have experienced success with this product/services
    • Keep it simple
      • be direct but impactful — attorneys, especially, may need coaching to stick to the key powerful facts
      • appeal to your audience
    • Adjust and try again
  • Pricing.
    • Don’t start by telling your client what they need and what you are going to charge them!
    • Rather, start by ASKING what your client what the need and what their comfort level is with respect to pricing. It isn’t just about cheap, it might be about increased predictability/reliability in pricing.
    • Understand the worth of your product/service
      • what is the true value add — TO THE CLIENT
      • is it a revenue generator
      • is it a brand builder
    • Understand your client
      • consider customized pricing
      • understand how they are using internal legal or consulting alternative resources
    • What will the market bear?
      • what is your firm’s experience data on this?
      • what are other firms charging?
        • this information doesn’t usually come via online research
        • you can ask clients — they are usually willing to tell you
        • you can ask colleagues in other firms
  • Ownership: How to keep it going.
    • These projects can require substantial investment by the firm — consider having a partner lead the effort (on the
    • You can be a victim of your own success — you now have a product/service you have to maintain for your clients
      • keep the produce up-to-date regarding design, technology, process
      • technology products often require external support
      • keep content fresh
      • monitor the market on an ongoing basis
  • Evolving the Product.
    • Keep track of client satisfaction
      • you can use surveys, face-to-face feedback, third-party consultants
      • gather input that drives change
    • plan for resources to maintain and improve the product/service in planned phases
    • usage data
      • you may need to refine your collection/analysis as your product matures
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Do You Have Moonshot Magic?

Buzz Aldrin: Apollo Flag

When you meet a person named Astro Teller, you know you are going to hear something interesting. Teller is the head of what he describes in his TED talk as the “Moonshot Factory.” We know it as X (formerly, Google X), the extraordinary innovation company. The impressive people at X call their goals “moonshots” because they are working on projects as audacious as the original moonshot proposed by President Kennedy. They also believe that they are working in a factory (rather than a lab or incubator) because they want to develop technologies that are both practical and replicable at a reasonable cost.

To achieve their moonshot innovations, the people of X have created a moonshot blueprint, a set of rules that govern their work:

  1. Focus on a huge problem that affects many millions of people.
  2. Propose a radical solution to that problem.
  3. Establish a credible belief that the technology necessary for that radical solution really can be built.

Putting this blueprint into action has resulted in an impressive array of innovations: self-driving cars, Makani energy kites that place portable wind turbines higher up in the stratosphere where the wind is faster and more consistent, and Project Loon (a balloon-powered Internet to provide connectivity to billions of people who live beyond cell tower access).

The moonshot blueprint has also resulted in some pretty spectacular failures. And that, paradoxically, is the secret of the Moonshot Factory’s success.  According to Teller, moonshot work is messy work so they have had to confront that reality:

But rather than avoid the mess, pretend it’s not there, we’ve tried to make that our strength. We spend most of our time breaking things and trying to prove that we’re wrong. That’s it, that’s the secret. Run at all the hardest parts of the problem first. Get excited and cheer, ‘Hey! How are we going to kill our project today?’

Obviously, this appetite for hunting down failure takes intestinal fortitude. After all, it’s quite natural for people to prefer the easy, safe path to success. Few want the disappointment or reputational risk that comes from being associated with a failed project. However, X needs its people to smoke out failures as soon as possible. It’s the best way to avoid truly expensive disasters later on.

So they put their money where their mouth is. In his TED talk, this is how Teller describes their winning approach:

We work hard at X to make it safe to fail. Teams kill their ideas as soon as the evidence is on the table because they’re rewarded for it. They get applause from their peers. Hugs and high fives from their manager, me in particular. They get promoted for it. We have bonused every single person on teams that ended their projects, from teams as small as two to teams of more than 30.

This is a radical approach to innovation that goes beyond Failure PartiesFailure Reports, Failure Targets, and even Safe-to-Fail experiments. Yet it is the secret to achieving moonshot magic.

What could you and your team accomplish if you developed moonshot magic?

[Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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Wanted: A Disobedient Law Firm

On March 24, Reid Hoffman (co-founder of LinkedIn) reminded us that the deadline is fast approaching to apply for the MIT Media Lab’s Disobedience Award. Just the name of the award alone caught my attention. In a world of conformity, it was startling to see an award for nonconformity.

So what’s the rationale for it? Here’s what Hoffman had to say:

Progress comes from innovation, and innovation happens when inventors, entrepreneurs, activists, organizers, and others refuse to accept the status quo. Instead, they pursue new paths and new solutions – and sometimes bend or even break the rules in the process.

To be clear, this award is not intended to reward lunatic risk-taking. Rather, they are looking for something far more special, as Joi Ito (Director, MIT Media Lab) makes clear:

This prize is a one-time experiment that, if successful, we will consider repeating in the future. It will go to a person or group engaged in what we believe is excellent disobedience for the benefit of society. The disobedience that we would like to call out is the kind that seeks to change society in a positive way, and is consistent with a set of key principles. The principles include non-violence, creativity, courage, and taking responsibility for one’s actions. The disobedience can be in — but is not limited to — the fields of scientific research, civil rights, freedom of speech, human rights, and the freedom to innovate.

This notion of a one-time experiment is entirely in keeping with the ethos of the Media Lab. This is clear from the Hoffman’s description of the Media Lab:

It’s an institution that prioritizes methodical but untethered experimentation, where researchers with widely varying areas of expertise are encouraged to collaborate and improvise in ways that become not just multi-disciplinary but antidisciplinary – disobedient.

What a concept: “an institution that prioritizes methodical but untethered experimentation.” Does that sound like a law firm near you?

So here’s the question for you. Is there anything you are working on or your firm is working that, in its own context, might be an example of creative rule bending (or breaking) for a greater purpose? If Hoffman is correct that such behavior drives innovation, then I hope your answer is yes. On the other hand, if you and your colleagues are squarely in the conformity camp, you need not apply for the award. Worse still, you may be missing the amazing opportunities that result from the curiosity, experimentation, and intelligent risk-taking typical of the ethically disobedient. One thing is for sure — you are unlikely to innovate.

I’ll be very surprised if a law firm or even a single lawyer wins the award. But wouldn’t it be nice if such a thing really were more likely?

 

[Photo Credit: Leon Riskin]

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How Innovative is Your Firm, Really?

Many businesses (including law firms) tout their innovation capacity. They use the right buzz words (agile, design thinking, rapid prototyping, etc.) and they display trendy props (innovation labs, informal gathering spaces, and lots and lots of post-it notes on walls). But is that enough to make a firm truly innovative?

Ideo says no. And Ideo should know.

Katharine Schwab, writing for Fast Company’s fastcodesign.com, reports that Ideo, the world-famous design firm, has studied its own 26-year old archive of client projects (as well as some external resources on innovation) to determine how best to measure innovation in an organization. For Ideo, “the most important element is the organization’s ability to adapt and respond to change.”

Through this research, Ideo “identified six basic vectors that it says are instrumental to an innovative, adaptive company”:

  1. Purpose: “A clear, inspiring reason for the company to exist — beyond just making money.” What is your law firm’s mission? You claim it is to serve the client. Is this actually borne out in the way the firm behaves internally and externally? Is it reflected in every decision the firm makes? Ideo has found that when leaders clearly articulate the company mission and then walk the talk, “projects and strategic solutions succeed 20.40% more often”.
  2. Experimentation: “Trying out new ideas and making evidence-based decisions about how to move forward.” Even if your firm is willing to experiment, does it have the discipline to make truly evidence-based decisions? (Note: many decisions that are described as evidence-based are actually pre-determined and then papered over with appropriate “evidence.”)
  3. Collaboration: “Working across business functions to approach opportunities and challenges from all angles.” In my report, Optimizing Law Firm Support Functions, I found that some of the most successful support functions were the ones that had learned to punch above their weight by collaborating productively with other administrative departments and with fee-earners. Is this type of collaboration the norm at your firm or is it unusual?
  4. Empowerment: “Providing a clear path to create change in all corners of the company by reducing unnecessary constraints.” How much change is your firm willing to tolerate? Can it handle the type of wholesale change contemplated by this vector?
  5. Looking out: “Looking beyond the company’s walls to understand customers, technologies, and cultural shifts.” How plugged in is your firm? Does your firm have the type of close relationships with clients that enable robust two-way communication about the things that matter to the client? Do you keep abreast of technological changes or is your firm a card-carrying technology laggard? Is your firm in tune with changes in the industry? Or is your firm fully occupied with its navel-gazing?
  6. Refinement: “Elegantly bridging vision and execution.” In other words, to what extent is your firm able to successfully execute new ideas? Do you have the right people with a bias toward action? Do you have the right methodology to support them as they transform ideas into reality? Do you have a robust change management approach?

Next, Ideo created a survey that clients can use to measure these vectors and the related behaviors.  Along with the survey results comes “feedback on tangible ways to become more innovative.” Ideo is finding that this self-reporting by teams, coupled with the feedback, demonstrably leads to better innovation performance.

Bonus: Ideo’s New Insights 

Thanks to the survey, Ideo “has definitive data to back up its hypotheses about what behavior actually drives” a team’s aptitude for innovation. Here are some insights from the data:

  • More is better: Do not limit your team to too narrow a range of innovation options at the beginning. “Instead, when teams iterate on five or more different solutions, they are 50% more likely to launch a product successfully.”
  • Command-and-Control systems squelch innovation success: “When a majority of team members who took the survey said that they felt comfortable challenging the status quo and acting with autonomy, the chances of a failed launch decreased by 16.67%.”
  • Your mission and underlying priorities must be in sync and stable: This alignment and stability provide a strong foundation that supports and cushions the naturally disruptive activities of innovation.

If your firm is ready to accelerate its innovation program, take a closer look at Ideo’s assessment and dashboard tool: Creative Difference. It might provide the data and insights your firm needs to truly become more innovative.

[Hat tip to Alessandra Lariu who pointed me to this article.]

[Photo Credit: Alexas Fotos]

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Innovation Through KM, Process, & Quality #KMWorld

KMWlogo_Stacked_Session Description: KM is but one of the legs that comprise the tripod of an innovation framework. The other two legs are efficient processes and a culture of quality. The need for this triumvirate is focus. Generally, to be successful, KM strategies must be planned and executed in steps. These steps require that KM be introduced through projects both to show progress as well as to limit the impact on an organization’s resources at one time. That’s where process comes into play. as specific processes must be targeted for improvement. The techniques of process improvement enable the focus needed to choose KM projects that are endorsed and supported by senior leadership. The final element of the innovation tripod—a culture of quality—means that the measurement of KM results is expected and conducted.

Speaker: Jim Lee, Sr. Vice-President, Knowledge Management Director, Fulton Financial Corporation

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2016 Conference. I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, so they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

NOTES:

  • Who are KM’s best allies?  
    • Scientific Management — Frederick Taylor
    • Project Management — Henry Gantt
    • Quality Management — Walter Shewhart
  • This is how KM, Process, and Quality play together to move the business forward:
    • WHY — the business objective, outputs, outcomes of your process or activities
    • WHERE — quality management thinking and measurement do this — how can KM help?
    • WHAT — process improvement focuses us on this — how can KM help?
    • WHEN — the process map tells us when something is to be done
    • WHO — knowledge management uncovers who is best for a project or for a question
    • HOW — best practices are forms of knowledge embedded in the process
  • Real Innovation: it requires seamless cooperation among KM, process management, and quality management.
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