Picture this! Your law firm has long positioned itself in known waters! The captain, he knew both the craft and water, but he’s leaving the ship, either of his own volition or he’s been pushed. Who’s the next captain?
There’s plenty of law firms out there in this position and they can be prone to making the easy decision.
What’s the Easy Decision?
To do what you’ve always known and that is, be introspective about the type of leader who will best get along with those already in your firm. So, they appoint someone just like the other guy, because it’s safe and won’t upset anyone.
What’s the Better Decision?
The best decision will be one that looks inwards less than it looks outwards. Returning to the metaphor of the water, the legal industry is in turbulent, unpredictable waters. The captain that got you here is unlikely going to get you there! The new captain, she will be completely different.
What Do You Mean?
Well, to put it bluntly, your old captain has traversed the waters of the tranquil bay! Sure, it hasn’t all been beer and skittles, but the new seascape is different. It requires a different skill set.
Look outside the legal industry. Who is the new chairperson of the Commonwealth Bank (Australia’s largest bank)? It’s Professor Genevieve Bell. Who is she? She’s a cultural anthropologist, technologist and futurist best known for her work at the intersection of cultural practice and technology development, and bringing non-traditional skills to engineering and computing. Not the traditional banking chairman because that industry like the legal industry is undergoing a tectonic shift.
Who is the new CEO of the Ford Company? It’s Jim Hackett, a furniture maker, a product of Michigan’s other corporate cluster – the three office-furniture companies around Grand Rapids, including Steelcase, which Hackett ran for two decades. Weird? Not really when you contextualise what’s happening in that industry, At Steelcase, Hackett became a devotee of an approach to product development known as design thinking, which rigorously focuses on how the user experiences a product.
What Do We Do?
Look outside rather than inside, look at the waters ahead and objectively consider who will best get out over the breaks, and the succession of breaks after that! And, while you’re on it, consider who is on the planning team. Who is going to support the wave of innovation needed to get you from here to there!