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Have you noticed that nearly everyone who writes about the legal profession and practice management these days seems fixated on innovation? Either that or leadership—but mostly innovation. Here’s our theory: When people start talking about innovation, it’s a polite way of saying, “Ach! I hate the way things are around here!” Just as talking about leadership is a polite way of saying, “Someone needs to fix things!”
Which doesn’t mean that Attorney at Work is anti-innovation. Very, very far from it! We’re absolutely nuts about creative thinking and creative doing. Just to prove it, this Friday’s Five focuses on, you guessed it: innovation and creativity. This, believe us, is just the tip of the iceberg.
1. The envelope please. For the cynics in the crowd, let’s first take a look at the just-announced 2011 winners of the InnovAction Awards. The College of Law Practice Management began bestowing this award on deserving innovators seven years ago. The goal? “To demonstrate what can be created when passionate professionals, with big ideas and strong convictions, are determined to make a difference.” And make a difference they have. Click “Award Winners” at this link to scroll through years of firms and organizations that absolutely do think differently.
2. Innovation pays. Law21 blogger Jordan Furlong is quite renowned for his thinking on new business models for the practice of law (and he’s been at the center of several innovation efforts in the legal profession, too). Recently he wrote about some of the lawyers, law firms and law-related organizations that have made a splash by creating something different. You can’t read about them without thinking about what could be in your own practice as well.
3. Our little grey cells. If you’ve been working in a law firm for even a little while, you know that thinking of the big ideas isn’t even half the battle. Implementing is by far the greater challenge, and consultants will tell you it has something to do with how lawyers are trained to think. Allison Wolf says, “The next and most important area for innovation in law firms is … turning our attention to maximizing the output of … our little grey cells.” She recommends five simple practices that work to transform your energy levels, allowing you to maximize your capacity for higher reasoning.
4. Feel the pain, then kill it. As it turns out, the legal profession isn’t the only one starving for something new. Innovation is the lifeblood of any competitive business. Thinking creatively is what leads to differentiation from your competitor. Read BNET’s Why Innovation is a Four Letter Word for a story about a gas station that creates a road map for innovation whatever your endeavor.
5. Headaches, hallucinations and strange urges. At this point, you may be thinking that some purposeful innovation in your law practice is a good idea. But how to get started? Artist and speaker, Jeffrey Paul Baumgartner suggests Ten Steps
for Boosting Creative thinking that may be just what you need. And if not, you’ll probably get a smile out of it.
While this isn’t really about innovation (anyone with half a brain knows you’ve got to have an elevator speech!), you should check out Baumgarter’s guide for creating a memorable one while you are on his website. You’re going to find it really helps.
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