Seven.jpg “Law Seven” and conclusion from my article: “The Seven Immutable Laws of Change Management 7)Turn a spotlight on your initiative and leave it on Many firms have fabulous meetings, sometimes in retreat venues where everyone participates in the creation of the master plan that will make the firm the “be all and end all”. All participants leave the process feeling a sense of pride and excitement that is palpable. It is only after the passage of a few months and the absence of any visible accomplishments that the disillusionment sets in. The cynics and skeptics have a field day — they might as well all buy red tee shirts with yellow words emblazoned across their chests “I told you so”. Well, Managing Partner, you must not allow this outcome. It is lethal and you cannot recover from it. Instead you need the lights that were on at the retreat to remain on. This is accomplished by not allowing the insects to crawl back under the rocks — (out of sight, out of mind). Instead you need to design processes that keep your people (not insects at all) in plain view. You can decide for yourself what might work best for you, but here are some of the techniques I have observed or recommended: a) Monday Morning Memos (as referenced earlier) giving weekly status reports to showing everyone’s progress on the distinct steps (actions) that have been agreed upon. This creates healthy peer pressure and allows no-one to hide. b) MBWA (Managing by Walking Around) coined by Tom Peters and Bob Waterman in their business classic In Search of Excellence — this means frequently dropping in, unannounced, to ask the right questions and to offer help — “How is that list coming… I see you are struggling to get this done in light of your particularly heavy case load at the moment… let’s explore some options… to whom could you delegate some aspects of this… I need you to make progress because others know you have an exceptionally heavy work load and if they see you getting your tasks done you will have effectively removed their excuses — I need you to do that… I will do anything to help short of doing your task for you…” c) Convene follow up meetings that exchange “learnings” that individuals have gleaned from their respective tasks, for example, how they worked with difficult people internally or how they overcame client resistance. This should not be a meeting where everyone reports progress — progress meetings become meaningless exercises in seeing who can offer the most creative excuses for failing to deliver. This is a peer level training meeting where the objective is to become ever more effective at accomplishing quality non-billable tasks. Conclusion: Fostering change in a law firm seems impossible because most Managing Partners treat the activities associated with such change as if they were component pieces of a legal transaction. Partners are so reliable when it comes to their substantive legal work that it seems unthinkable that they could not complete mundane simple tasks associated with management initiatives. Well, the real world is that the non-billable activities are not even on the same psychological map as the billable ones. Billable work means everything to a lawyer from income to professional satisfaction to garnering the respect of peers (internally and externally) to being respected in social circles. Non-billable work, no matter how important, and regardless of the value to our futures, will always take second place to billable work unless you, Managing Partner, manage for a different outcome. The score in many firms is billable work “100” and quality non-billable work “0”. By following these seven immutable laws of managing change, you will change the latter score from zero and even if you only to “99 to 1”, you and your firm will be the beneficiaries of the infinite improvement from “0” to “1”. Further, in the legal profession, those who make continuous slight progress win the race, because most competitors are still tied to that pier. Law #1 Law #2 Law #3 Law #4 Law #5 Law #6 (…thanks to Cameron Cooper of the Australian Law Journal where my article first appeared)