Ginevra Saylor, National Director, Innovation and Knowledge programs at Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP and President of the International Legal Technology Association shares her ideas on sourcing new technology, managing change and driving adoption and innovation.
As the head of innovation and knowledge programs at Gowling WLG's Canada region, my role encompasses client-facing and internal innovation, knowledge management, learning and development, and legal project management and pricing. A substantial part of my role involves identifying, evaluating, and implementing new legal technologies, as well as managing change and securing and sustaining adoption. I like to think of my job as helping to make our people's work more rewarding and contributing to their well-being. I try to do this by introducing technology that reduces mundane, repetitive tasks and streamlines processes to free up more of their time for the interesting and fulfilling aspects of their work.
I suggest the following five quick tips for sourcing and introducing new legal technology:
- 1. "Start with a problem, not a solution"
When evaluating new legal technology, starting with a problem that needs to be solved is prudent. Granted, you must always be on the lookout for promising opportunities to implement new technology with real potential for delivering better services and differentiating oneself in the market. But, the key is to avoid falling into the trap of purchasing enticing new technology, implementing it, and assuming that people will find compelling reasons to use it. Rather, take the high priority challenges that people in your organisation are confronting, clearly articulate the root problem causing those issues, and look for technology that adeptly solves the problem. Then, when engaging stakeholders in evaluating and later designing and implementing the technology remember to focus again on the problem and how the technology addresses it. Because people find comfort in routine, even when they dislike the associated issues and yearn for something better, change generally comes with some pain. So, working with individuals on how the technology will resolve their particular problems helps move them off that inertia.
- 2. “Approach people with a view to what matters most to them”
A corollary to the first tip, talking to people in terms of what is most important to them from their individual perspective is the best way to pique their interest in new technology. We constantly battle for people’s precious time and because everyone is extremely busy, getting and holding their attention is difficult. The best way to both grab their attention and respect their limited time is to start by explaining exactly "what is in it for them." Once they see that, things typically start to fall into place.
- 3. “Design solutions to work with your environment”
When bringing new technology into an organisation, spend substantial time ensuring that the technology is designed to wrk within that particular environment. Sit down with stakeholders to ensure that the technology will work the way they intend and need it to work. Look closely at how people currently work both together and independently: you will want to preserve practices that work well or are integral to successful outcomes, and be ready to modify or eliminate those that hinder effectiveness or efficiency. And while too many customisations can cause future headaches, almost all technology will require some adjustments to the out-of-the-box experience to work optimally in a specific environment. The ideal is to find the proper balance.
- 4. “Never stop at adoption”
When launching new technology, achieving initial healthy adoption should be the start, not the end of your adoption efforts. Think of adoption as having three components or phases:
1. Adoption, the first phase, occurs at some point after launching, training on, and promoting the technology when you have reached your targeted percentage of people regularly using it.
2. The next phase, adaption, occurs when you have sustained adoption, indicating that people have adapted to the technology such that they are comfortable with it and have incorporated it into in their daily practice.
3. The final phase is adeptness, achieved when significant numbers of people are using advanced features and exploring ways to use the technology in new and better ways to get more out of its features.
Achieving all three requires constant communication and promotion, targeted and tailored training, and unflagging support.
- 5. “Keep a vigilant eye on what is out there”
Keeping abreast of all of the new legal technology entering the market is no easy feat. In addition to reading legal technology news, attending legal technology webinars and events, and exchanging experiences with peers, open your door to legal technology start-ups, especially those looking for early adopters to help them shape their product's development. The best prospect for legal technology's future comes from collaboration, legal practitioners partnering with emerging legal technology companies to help mould their solutions to meet the needs of the legal sector.
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