Fringe Legal #26: Change²
Last week Slack was bought by Salesforce for $27.7 billion. There are plenty of opinions on the acquisition, so I'll spare you yet another one. However, go explore the origin story behind Slack (the last-ditch pivot from a games company!) and how it grew into one of the fastest adopted enterprise software in its early days.
Slack has a vibrant community around it, including many businesses that both started because of it and are fully powered by it. Two thoughts come to mind: (1) will Salesforce add communication capabilities and compete with Zoom/Teams and add a new line of business; and (2) will Discord (or similar) become a more prominently recognized consumer app (outside of gamers and enthusiasts)?
This week, I share three items of interest.
My recent conversation with Alex Low (see below) triggered some thoughts on work by futurist Gerd Leonhard (who Alex referenced). I had explored some of Gerd's work before, particularly around the notion of transformation and change squared (Change²). At a very high level, it is this:
Change has previously been gradually then suddenly; however, things have shifted more towards sudden and exponential. Winning and losing are happening faster than ever before. In the age of autonomy, human-only traits will become extremely valuable: technology will represent the how of change, but humans will define the why.
Transformation is ongoing, and I believe that the legal profession is in the early stages of its current phase. There needs to be a paradigm shift in the process of getting work done. Two stories that sum up where we are:
Lessons from the early Web:
Back in the Web's early days, to design a website, people would often follow the process they used to design a printed brochure and then "convert to HTML." They were bolting on a new technology onto an aging process, ignoring the full capability of a new way of creating.
Lessons from (someone's) grandpa:
In the days when TVs had buttons (yes, that happened), grandpa bought a new television with a remote control so he could change the channels more easily. But because grandpa didn't want to lose the remote control, he would always keep it on top of the TV. Every time grandpa wanted to change the channel, he got up off the sofa, walked to the TV, picked up the remote, changed the channel, and sat back down again. (hat tip to Alex for the story)
What are the lessons? If you want a different outcome, especially one that's a step up in orders of magnitude, you need to reimagine the processes and behaviors. Don't limit effectiveness and functionality by bolting on to current ways of doing things. I am starting to see new processes and workflows emerge, but there is still a long way to go.
I know very little about law firm marketing and business development and am making a concentrated effort to learn more.
Last week, I spoke with Alex Low about branding, specifically building your brand using LinkedIn. The importance of a marketing strategy (and why you need one), and the difference between marketing and BD.
Your personal brand is as much your passive profile - the static points on LinkedIn - but then it's about supporting that with content, the stories you tell.
It's full of insights (such as the grandpa story above).
You can watch the interview here / listen to the audio
Joran Furlong - who is an exceptional personality and past Fringe Legal Summit speaker - reviews why managing and leading a firm is going to be a lot of work. Here's a taste:
In a word, law firms made serendipity a core element of their culture. They hoped that random encounters generated from the shared use of narrow office corridors would render unnecessary any efforts to actually exercise leadership or develop professional skills or build firm culture. Let lawyers be who they are and work as they like — culture will happen naturally.
Jordan goes on to provide some suggestions on culture, leadership, and personal development. Highly recommended.
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