You’ve heard the sayings “change is good” and “change leads to growth,” but when it comes down to actually making the change, it’s not easy to take that first step. I have worked as an instructor and as a manager of a team of instructors for many years. I’ve been responsible for developing associated workflows, material and documented processes to aid in the transformation of a litigation team. When the decision is made to implement a new tool into the legal workflow, at least “one” person is excited about it and sees the value of streamlining their processes and even more importantly saving money. But you also have many end users who resist the change and try to fit their square practices into a round hole thereby forcing the tool to work in alignment with their old habits and never stretch themselves. As a result, shortly after training, the excitement and momentum slowly evaporates, and no one can see an effect on their workflows or a return on the investment.
So how can you implement change effectively? The implementation of a new tool or workflow is a company project like any other. It requires some nudging from familiar routines. To do that you need a champion. Work from the top down. Look for the attorney that took part in the decision to purchase the tool or the attorney who has a case that would benefit from the tool and serve as a success story to encourage others to follow. Find an attorney that embraces technology and will run with the opportunity. Having a champion helps pave the road and authoritatively sends a message for change throughout the organization during those uncomfortable moments of push back.
Next, share your vision. Share how the new tool is best for the business in terms of client satisfaction, workflow, budget, etc. Prepare your colleagues for the transformation by providing practical examples that apply to their specific workflows. Once you’ve captured their attention, understand that there are different skills sets throughout the organization which lend themselves to some vulnerability. Be prepared to meet each person where they are and make sure they understand they are going to have the support they need to grow. Removing their fears can push aside the obstacles they are facing and actually have them join in on the excitement.
Once you have the champion in place and you have shared the vision and the value, describe how you’re going to carry them through this process. At this point, you have already identified how the new tools are going to eliminate some of their pain points. “Think Big” . . . during your discussions with them, ask them to imagine what it would be like if we could remove your pain points in your workflow. Be specific if you can and give relevant examples. This may ultimately stir up some questions, but you’re priming them to stretch. Make sure that they understand that their current processes aren’t really going to take them much further than where they are right now, but collectively the team is going to stretch and embrace the change. Throughout the transformation process, take note of “wins.” Affirm those individuals and share the successes with others across the organization and you’ll begin to see both changes in workflow, unity and more than likely a return on your investment. Finally, complete the cycle by selecting a client or two each month to express your appreciation in representing them. Acknowledge the steps the legal team has taken to give them the best legal representation possible.
Transformation can be good. But it must be presented the right way. Show the value, get buy-in, describe the process, and acknowledge pain points. Let’s stretch together.