Best Delivery as an agency for change
Best Delivery contains a broad range of skills and expertise. To be effective in their roles they all need to have a mindset and a specialist set of skills in common. To find out what these are, read on.
How does the role of change agents fit within the Best Delivery offering?
Dana: Lawyers are experts in law and focused on delivering legal advice to clients. They don't always have time to identify if there might be a better way of doing specific types of work or they may not know enough about the different solutions available. Best Delivery is all about finding ways to improve the client experience by leveraging our experience as change professionals and bringing the legal teams on board to discover new ways of working. It's a classic change management role.
Conan: My role as a change agent is to build excitement around tech. For a partner that excitement might be solving a problem for a client. While for associates it might be to grow their skills and develop professionally.
Owain: Our role as change agents has become more important as the Best Delivery programme has matured. We bring all the elements together to make tangible solutions that add value for our lawyers and clients. Opportunities to deliver our services to clients more efficiently will continue to evolve, particularly given the current environment we find ourselves in. Our role is to help legal teams adapt to new ways of working.
Tania: Every change initiative requires lawyers to reassess how they perform their daily tasks so, in my role, I am constantly required to anticipate the organisational impact of proposed changes and to define the benefits in a way that will resonate with various groups of lawyers.
What skills are required to be an effective change agent?
Owain: Someone who is not afraid to challenge convention; a good influencer who understands an individual's or a group's motivations, constraints and reservations. You need to be able to decipher a team's strategy and create a burning platform for change that will resonate with all parties.
Dana: You need to be able to articulate a vision for change with confidence and credibility, and where needed, to challenge assumptions, while demonstrating understanding for any concerns and integrating those into your approach. This often comes down to the relationships you build and your stakeholder management skills, as people need to feel heard, in order for them to embrace the risks of making a change.
Conan: A good change agent is a chameleon - you need to be flexible and adaptable and know what characteristic is needed in different scenarios. Sometimes the situation requires you to take control; other times you'll need to be in more of a listening mode.
Tania: You also need to be very resilient and accept that change is an 'emotional labour' that requires persistence, perseverance and long term commitment. The ultimate objective is to embed a change mindset within the teams we work with so that the impetus for change becomes self-sustaining.
As an agent of change, what are you doing differently in how you position Best Delivery solutions to the end user?
Tania: Our aim is to make any change as painless as possible. The cure should never be worse than the disease, so I try to break a change down into smaller, easily absorbed steps. The goal is to develop momentum, with measurable benefits being realised in the short- term, thus making our lawyers more receptive and willing to try different things.
Dana: We're always striving to find the line between a bespoke solution that will optimise the delivery of a specific mandate, and one that can be adapted for a wider audience. We look at what has worked before and see whether it can benefit other clients/other types of mandates. Increasingly, our greatest challenge and value is to turn a single new solution into an opportunity for transformation that can be replicated over and over across similar work-types. This then is embedded to become a new way of delivering specific types of work.
Owain: As we have been building up our capabilities across Best Delivery, we are now expanding discrete solutions into full service offerings across entire work types. These combine technology, efficient processes and the right resources across the entire lifecycle of a matter. We market these solutions with clear proven benefits, a support network and the level of training and guidance needed by our legal teams and our clients. This is how we drive adoption at scale, not through a single task, process or piece of technology.
Conan: My role is ultimately to help lawyers determine what is possible from a technology perspective. However, changes start well before that. It's not just about selling tech solutions up and down the floors. We spend a lot of time listening to our lawyers, educating ourselves on how they work and demonstrating how we can add value to the client. From there we can build trusting relationships and prove that time spent with Best Delivery is time well spent.
Have the changes imposed by Covid-19 impacted the role and offering of Best Delivery as agents of change?
Conan: The permeation of continuous improvement within the legal industry has been on the rise. The current situation created by Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the pace of change. Technology, both at a professional and consumer level, is being relied on like never before. And so the baseline of technological competency and trust has risen as well. Whether we are communicating through video, collaborating online, signing documents digitally or automating mundane tasks, our work and personal life realities are transforming. This will put even greater emphasis, and perhaps pressure, on Best Delivery, and we are up for the challenge.
Dana: The pandemic is putting pressure on our clients and we've experienced a definite increase in demand. As change agents we have a key role in helping our legal teams to respond proactively to what clients are concerned about. Our solutions can help clients who may be resource, time or cost constrained, ensuring that the right tasks are done by the right resource with the right technology, and helping their budgets stretch further.
Tania: With Covid-19, many of our projects are focused on how the firm will reposition itself once the world reaches equilibrium in the so-called 'new normal'. We are also helping our leaders to navigate through the crisis with tactical improvements. With this increased workload, we need to prioritise our efforts and secure the required level of sponsorship to help the firm keep up with the pace of change.
Owain: Yes, we have been seen increased take-up of solutions such as Kira as a system that enables work to continue without hard copies of documents, and without being in the office. This has meant that we are on hand at all times to provide support where needed and make sure that the user has the best possible experience, thus improving the likelihood of further adoption in the future.
About our contributors:
Best Delivery is a global network that contains a very broad range of skills and experience, with very different pathways in, as illustrated by our four contributors:
Dana: I've worked in the legal industry my entire career in various kinds of operational management roles. I joined Clifford Chance in 2002 and was one of the earliest members of what has evolved into the Best Delivery programme, having been trained in continuous improvement by the Firm. I'm now Senior Best Delivery Advisor based in our Amsterdam office and, for the last 10 years, I've also been a certified change management practitioner.
Owain: I started my career as a mechanical engineer. While working in the aerospace industry in operational excellence, I was trained in Lean Six Sigma and change management. This inspired a move into management consultancy, implementing operational transformation programmes in a variety of sectors for both boutique specialist and Big 4 firms. More recently I began working with business leaders to help define and implement their transformation strategies. I joined Clifford Chance two years ago as a Continuous Improvement Portfolio Manager.
Conan: After law school and some extensive time abroad, I worked at a large law firm in Philadelphia mostly performing document review for ediscovery and due diligence projects. I then moved to a mid-sized firm as a project attorney for a class action pharmaceutical litigation. After the financial crisis in 2008 I recognised that the legal industry was ripe for change, so I moved to New York and took a job with Integreon for two years as an e-discovery project manager. In 2012 I returned to BigLaw as a business analyst – a role somewhere between knowledge management and IT. I joined Clifford Chance in 2018 as a Senior Legal Technology Advisor for the Americas region.
Tania: My early career was spent in the banking sector, working as a process improvement and change management specialist in a re-engineering team. I then became a management consultant working within the Big-4 across many countries, transforming how the financial sector players operated, as well as working on internal change initiatives for my employer. I joined the Clifford Chance Hong Kong office as a Continuous Improvement Portfolio Manager a year ago – a different sector, but with many similar preoccupations and challenges.