Ready, fire, aim… oops!

Ready, fire, aim… oops!

This is the fourth in a series of nine postings about the secrets of successful innovation in law firms.

Successful innovations are not brainstorms that are instantly transferred from the flip chart to business reality. Instead, there must be a disciplined investment of intellectual energy to ensure that the underlying concepts and their possible implications for the firm are fully understood.

This involves two steps.

First of all, be sure that you and your partners understand the concepts behind the innovation. Ask some searching questions and do not be satisfied until you have specific answers. For example:

  • How is this concept new? Or is it only a repackaging of something that already exists?
  • What are you trying to achieve? How can you measure your achievement?
  • How will it perform you market position, especially among your major clients?
  • How will it improve your firm's profitability?

Secondly, anchor the concept in your market. Ask these questions:

  • What do your best clients think about the proposed innovation?
  • How likely is the innovation to improve the loyalty of your clients, as measured by new instructions and referrals to others?
  • What are your competitors doing? How would your innovation be fundamentally different?

Being different from your competitors is important, but it should not be the end of the inquiry. Ask a few more probing questions, such as:

  • Could your competitors do this?
  • Could they do it better than you can?
  • What, if any, advantages will the innovation give you with respect to each of your major competitors?

Don't permit difficult questions like these to scare you and your partners away from a good idea. A truly great innovation should be able to pass all of these tests. By investing the time and energy early in the innovation process, you will greatly improve the probability of breakthrough success.

"Ready, fire, aim" is never the way to turn a good idea into a great reality.

Read more on the Walker Clark Worldview Blog.