This quote has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks. In the article I read, it was attributed to a production line manager in a Chinese manufacturing plant, working out how she would return her plant to full operation, post COVID. She was contemplating robotics, split shifts, worker segregation, and a myriad of other ideas. Now a manufacturing plant is different to a legal firm innovating during COVID but the point however was how the COVID lockdown was forcing innovation at breakneck speed.
We’ve seen it everywhere. Think about the Nightingale Hospitals. Seeing the London Exhibition Centre converted into a hospital in a matter of days, was quite inspiring (and a little scary – happily it was never used to full capacity … yet!).
All over the country the government, the NHS and business have innovated at breakneck speed, to meet the challenges of COVID and the post lockdown world.
Which of course begs the question “Why the !@$%^&* didn’t we do this before?”.
Why has it taken a global pandemic to drive such dynamic innovation and change, when we know (be honest!) it should form part of our “normal” business planning?
The question is largely rhetorical, but the obvious answer is that most people hate change. We like the familiar, and the comfortable. We’re hard wired to prefer an “easy life” where we control most of the variables. We hate uncertainty – it triggers fear, and a “flight or fight” reaction. And dare I say it – lawyers even more so. How many partners meetings have you sat in when your partners come up with 100 reasons why the firm shouldn’t do something? It’s what we’re trained to do – to see the problems and the risks and manage them.
What about us?
At our last board meeting, we were challenged to be bolder, to be braver, to do now what we’ve been talking about for the last few months (years!). To seize the opportunity to make the changes we should have made, but never quite got around to.
I must admit, it made me a little uneasy!
But innovation is critical for survival and becoming more so. In 1964 the average tenure in the Fortune 500 in the US, was 33 years. In 2016 it was 24, and in 2027 one study predicts it will be 12. (https://www.innosight.com/insight/creative-destruction/) The rate of “creative destruction” is accelerating!
Change, innovate …… or fail.
Are your palms sweating yet!
David Calder, Managing Director at The Cashroom Ltd