I guess I’m not the only one encouraging their readers to take a different approach. Since writing Do Something Different, I’ve come across a few articles about the need for different thinking in business and the law. Here are 2 that I found compelling.
A Harvard Business Review post talks about how difficult it is for grown-ups to think differently. According to the article, people don’t think differently because it makes them uncomfortable and tires them out. ‘Sixty to eighty percent of adults find the task of thinking different uncomfortable and some even find it exhausting. When adults must connect the unconnected through associational thinking, it wears them out.’ Fortunately for us, thinking differently can be learned. (Read the HBR article.)
Another article from Corporate Counsel is near and dear to my heart because it addresses the legal industry. It talks about the down-side of law firms following the status-quo when new thinking and models are needed. In fact, if firms don’t change of their own free will, change may be thrust upon them. Unfortunately, the system just doesn’t seem to have any room for change.
It’s widely understood that Big Law partners pay brutal dues for up to 20 years to land atop the pyramid and reap its richest financial rewards. However, the crucial corollary is that any investment they might make in innovation comes directly from the partnership’s take-home pay, during this short window of high earnings they’ve suffered decades of hard work to achieve.
These perverse incentives are exacerbated by the portability of each partner’s book of business. A managing partner who reduces short-term profits to make strategic investments risks inciting an exodus by the firm’s top earners. These fundamental punishments meted out for change have ensured near-total stasis decade after decade.
This reminds me of something Richard Susskind once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, ‘It’s hard to convince a bunch of millionaires that their business model is wrong.’ I guess those partners don’t care if some analysts are saying the legal industry is the hardest hit industry during the ‘Great Recession.’ (Read full article here.)
In the post-industrial world, thinking differently will be what’s valued, even in law. If you don’t know how to think outside the box, you can learn.