Pushing change

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At Nimonik, we are trying to change an established market – never an easy chore. Notably, we are trying to pull companies away from using excel spreadsheets to manage legal obligations and get them to use an online tool that is always up to date, always accessible and collaborative by definition. Sounds obvious, right?

But, people know excel and email. Our job is to convince them of the merits of the change, no easy task, but once the ball gets rolling, industry tends to follow quickly.

People dislike change because implicit in any change is a critique of how they are currently doing something. People dislike criticism, and thus change.

A recent article from our friend Jordan Furlong at Law21 outlines the dramatic changes happening in the legal profession and how lawyers are and aren’t changing.

Going first, and doing so conspicuously, is incredibly important to change in the law. It’s conventional wisdom to blame lawyers’ reluctance to innovate on the fact that they hate being first movers, that they much prefer to stand back and let someone else make the initial move. And that’s true as far as it goes, maybe even more so for in-house lawyers than for private practitioners. But the corollary to that is that lawyers also don’t like being the last ones to join the club. Ron Friedmann explains this very well by using “a discontinuous step-shaped function” to describe lawyers’ willingness to change:

Consider adoption in the legal market of e-mail, document management, marketing, lateral moves, or mergers. For each, there seemed to be only a few firms doing it and then, quite suddenly, many or all were. The “step function” reflects lawyer decision making: the first few adopters change slowly, gingerly, and quietly. Everyone wants to follow so once you have a dozen adopters, “the coast is clear” and the rest rush in.

In physics you have two types of friction: Static and Kinetic. Static friction is the force required to get an object moving, while kinetic friction is the force required to keep it moving. Static friction is always greater than kinetic, meaning it takes more effort to start movement than to maintain it. What holds true with objects, holds true with organisations. Getting change going is the hardest part, once that is accomplished, it is easier to keep it moving – though not effortless. Help us change business.