Shawn McClurg moderated a pre-recorded roundtable discussion today with Peter Pepiton entitled Practical Tips/Strategies for Selling Innovation Upwards – The Constant Struggle of Litigation Support. The focus of this roundtable was determining ways that innovation could be achieved inside a law firm.
How do you best identify an innovation ‘need’?
There are a few ways in which you would identify an innovation need. First, a need might be glaringly obvious (i.e. a problem is out in the open and needs to be solved). If it is not easily identifiable, you might have to suss it out by talking to people and others in your firm about their pain points. And once you have built momentum for innovation, more things will come your way. Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean technology – it can be as simple as taking a seven step process and figuring out a way to reduce it to a five step process.
How do you get a leg in the door/find the stakeholders?
Be in the atmosphere of the folks you want to be working with – go where they go and be where the conversations are happening. That could mean getting on the agenda of a practice group meeting to discuss a possible time saver or other small win you have had. If you are a new associate looking to move up the ranks, show up and just do whatever you can to help the general team effort. Figure out what is being measured and determine how you can impact that. Volunteer for a cross-functional team to get greater visibility across the firm. Work with other internal groups (marketing, HR, billing, etc.) on cross-promotion to gain greater visibility to other areas of the firm that you might not see on a day to day basis.
What are some pitfalls to avoid?
Overselling and under-delivering. Don’t overpromise what you can do and make sure you can deliver what you are selling.
How do you manage failure/rejection?
Negative results are still results, so a failure should be seen as a learning opportunity. If you are not failing, then you are not doing enough. Continue to learn and adjust from your failures and don’t let them stop you from innovating.
How best do you build on success?
Gloat and promote – advertise your wins often. Find someone in your firm to be your champion who can promote your innovation in circles that you might not necessarily be in. Often times the champion’s praise carries more weight than your own.