How to drive successful change across your firm: five key questions

Josef works with the best and most innovative firms across the globe as they implement successful innovation and automation strategies. Our Head of Customer Strategy, GG, who also teaches strategic management at the University of Melbourne, shares how we’ve seen them win.

Now more than ever, with tools like Josef, law firms are changing the way that they work. But, how do you make sure that change sticks? While a number of factors contribute to the success (or failure) of a firm’s change strategy, in the roughly 70 percent of change programs that fail to deliver, the majority of problems can be attributed to the “soft stuff”: like employee resistance to change and inappropriate leadership behaviour. 

So how do you shift a mindset from “my job is to follow the rules” to “my job is to improve what we do and how we do it”?

While some companies use flashing strobe lights and techno music to launch new projects, at Josef, we prefer a slightly more hands-on approach.

After years of exhaustive research and experience, McKinsey has discovered five questions that hold the key to successful change management. And, at Josef, we’ve seen how some of the best firms in the world go about answering them.

How do you shift a mindset from “my job is to follow the rules” to “my job is to improve what we do and how we do it”?

How do you shift a mindset from “my job is to follow the rules” to “my job is to improve what we do and how we do it”?

1. Where do you want to go?

A clear vision has long been considered crucial to successful transformation efforts. No matter if you’re talking about a 6 month rollout or a 2-3 year plan, it’s important to:

– use research to understand the customer and industry

– define the problem 

– define who this impacts

– test the business case; and

– decide what will shift the dial. 

Once it can be articulated, it must be communicated. Strobe lights are optional.

At Josef, we see this work best when the firm acknowledges that the legal professionals on the ground are the ones with the knowledge that will inform this vision. They are the ones who have an intimate understanding of their clients’ wants and needs. They’re the ones who must contribute to and drive the firm’s vision.

By giving employees access to Josef, the firms we work with not only effectively make use of this knowledge, they also apply a multiplier to their innovation function by allowing legal professionals the autonomy to automate their day-to-day work.

2. How ready are we to embark on the journey?

When change programs assess the skills required to fulfill their performance aspirations, they are upward of six times more likely to succeed. Key factors to identify include:

– the capabilities you need 

– strengths to build on; and

– weaknesses to tackle.

The associate/clerkship programs that Josef runs with firms like Clifford Chance are a great example of capacity-building. However, these firms are not only investing in and future-proofing their staff. By recognising the technological capabilities of the next generation of lawyers, they are also driving real value across the firm through the bots that are built and launched.

GG, Josef's Head of Customer Strategy and strategic management tutor at the University of Melbourne.

GG, Josef's Head of Customer Strategy and strategic management tutor at the University of Melbourne.

3. What do you need to get there?

Once you’ve decided where you are and where you want to go, you can plan what you’ll need to get there! Successful firms enable their people with the right: 

– tools

– support and education

– time and incentives

– inspiration and examples; and 

– use cases.

While ensuring that staff can (and want to) use the tools and technology available to them is crucial, it is not the end of the matter. The best firms don’t just hand Josef over to their staff, for example. They recognise that staff need time and space to build, and the education and training to build well.

4. How do we manage the journey? 

Building and maintaining momentum is key. Successful organisations often couple a clear structure for managing the process with the right kind of internal marketing efforts. Often this includes:

– a balance of “quick wins” and transformational projects 

– a clear sign off process; and

– continuous testing and measurement.

When firms roll out Josef, one of the best models for these programs is having a highly visible “flagship” project that acts as an example and an inspiration for other participants. Coupled with a “light-touch” governance model, this means that even a distributed innovation program – in which everyone across a firm participates in innovation and tech – can be targeted, well-managed and, ultimately, successful.

... even a distributed innovation program – in which everyone across a firm participates in innovation and tech – can be targeted, well-managed and, ultimately, successful.

... even a distributed innovation program – in which everyone across a firm participates in innovation and tech – can be targeted, well-managed and, ultimately, successful.

5. How do we keep moving forward?

The best transformation efforts allow for continuous improvement. So how do firms continue to improve and be innovative within the legal industry? Leaders and infrastructure are crucial, but also useful are some principles, guided by a continuous improvement mindset, that some companies have adopted from tech. These companies:

– test 

– iterate; and

– polish.

In the legal industry, where constant perfection is expected – often for good reason! – establishing a mindset open to testing initiatives in order to better them (even in controlled environments) can be especially difficult. But when law firms do this well, they will possess the ultimate competitive advantage.

If you’re interested in using Josef to drive meaningful change in your firm, request a demo.