Disruption in the Legal Profession

The Economist recently related the story of Howrey, which two years ago was one of the world’s largest law firms, employing nearly 700 attorneys who together pulled in more than $1 million in profit per partner. Earlier this year, frayed and fatigued by flimsy profits, frustrated partners and failed merger talks, Howrey closed its doors. Several forces are conspiring against firms like Howrey and its ilk. The global economy has been kind to no industry, but few have felt pricing pressure as much as the historically profitable (some would say profligate) legal profession. Add to that the complexities and competitive pressures brought about by rapid globalization, plus new technologies (electronic discovery, digitally-enabled research) that can perform formerly human tasks, and it’s easy to understand why new marketplace realities are causing our friends in law places to scratch their heads. It’s about time. Oh, I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited … Continue reading

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Did Cookie Monster Mislead Us?

What? Cookie Monster mislead us? That’s like questioning mom, apple pie and the 4th of July! But he did. If you don’t believe me, just watch this very short (one-minute) video clip: Where’s the fib? In his implication that there’s only one right answer to the question. From a very early age we‘re taught by authority figures to think in rigid ways. In particular, we’re taught that there is one, and ONLY one, right answer to every problem or question. As evidenced by the video clip, even Cookie Monster gets in on the act. And he’s just the tip of the iceberg. Did you take the SAT or ACT exams in high school? Or maybe the LSATs on the way to law school? Remember how many of the multiple-choice questions had several likely answers? I can remember constantly fighting the urge to fill in more than one bubble. If I … Continue reading

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Getting Open Innovation Participation

Point: Crowdsourcing and open innovation efforts rely on participation. Attracting participants and encouraging activity is a key success factor in obtaining and vetting new product, service and process innovation ideas. Story: Crowdsourcing is only as good as the crowd. Presenters at the World Research Group’s Innovation Cubed Summit described several methods that they use to engage people for internal innovation efforts. In particular, they talked about getting participation beyond just idea submission. Although some innovation contests have an easy-to-score objective measure of success (such as NetFlix’s rating algorithm contest or the get-to-space Ansari X PRIZE), most participatory innovation efforts cast a wider net and have more open-ended, subjective measures of performance. That means people need to evaluate all the submissions to find the best ones. These broad innovation contests involve more than just submitting a great idea (the proverbial 1% inspiration). The effort also …

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A Dozen Ingredients for a Culture of Innovation

The term “culture of innovation” is one that is bandied about a lot by people in the field. Indeed, you have doubtless read about how important a culture of innovation is to the success of any corporate innovation initiative. Nevertheless, you would also be forgiven for wondering just what the heck a culture of innovation is and, if it really is so terrific, how the heck you could get one for your firm! Let’s find out… Definition of a Culture of Innovation A culture of innovation is very simply a workplace environment that constantly encourages people to think creatively and facilitates implementing creative ideas so that they may become innovations. It is important to note that our definition includes the terms “creativity” and “innovation”. That is because innovative solutions are the result of implemented creative ideas. Since humans are creative thinkers and groups comprise humans, a culture of innovation needs … Continue reading

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11 Ways To Restate Problems to Get Better Solutions

When faced with a challenge or problem, one of the best first steps in solving – even before you start thinking-up possible solutions – is to examine and restate the problem. As Morgan D. Jones writes in his book, The Thinker’s Toolkit: 14 Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving – “The aim of problem restatement is to broaden our perspective of a problem, helping us to identify the central issue and alternative solutions and increase the chance that the outcome our analysis produces will fully, not partially, resolve the problem.” “Restate or redefine the problem in as many different ways we can think of. This allows us to shift our mental gears without evaluating them.” Below I’ve provided eleven different methods to help restate a problem. The first five are found in Jones’ Thinker’s Toolkit. Suggestions Jones suggests include… (1) Paraphrase: Restate the problem using different words without losing the original … Continue reading

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Global Innovation Index 2011 - Inputs and Outputs

This article is the second in a series of four articles digging into the recently released Global Innovation Index 2011 put together by Insead along with knowledge partners Alcatel-Lucent, Booz & Co., the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). There is a lot of data in the Global Innovation Index 2011 and so I thought it would share it with you bit by bit to make it digestible and then share my overall thoughts. In the first article we shared the overall Global Innovation Index 2011 country rankings. These overall rankings are based on two main components – innovation inputs and innovation outputs. Below you’ll find the country rankings based on innovation inputs and the country ranking based on innovation outputs. The source data for creating the innovation inputs rankings includes: 1. Institutions 1.1 Political environment — 1.1.1 Political stability — 1.1.2 Government effectiveness … Continue reading

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Innovation Requires More Than Quirky Office Space

AOL succumbed to the myth that creating an eclectic workspace makes employees suddenly more innovative. The headline from USA Today reads: “It’s engineers gone wild at AOL: Quirky office space inspires app innovation.” Quirky? “The space you work in is a reflection of the kind of company you are,” says Brad Garlinghouse, AOL’s president of the Application and Commerce Group. “You get innovation,” he insists, from “working in a space that’s very open and doesn’t have offices…where people can work together and play together.” Further, the company believes letting workers draw on the walls helps creativity. AOL is in more trouble than I thought. Simply putting people in a different workspace is not going to make them more creative. A room full of beanbag chairs, Frisbees, and white boards does not change the cognitive pattern of how people generate ideas. It may indeed hamper innovation. …

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Management, Psychology, culture | 2 Comments