Workflow and TechnologyOctober 31, 2020
LEGAL TECHNOLOGY: WHAT STAGE ARE YOU IN?November 3, 2020
I came across an article that lays out some solid steps to keep you going to achieve results and keep you going especially as we face the challenges posed by COVID – 19 as it disrupts carefully laid out plans and goals set by law firms.
Here are military-style lessons that apply to the challenges we all face as we try to work our way through what is mostly referred to as the “new normal.”
The Powell Doctrine lays out some key steps to using all the force necessary to achieve a decisive and successful ongoing result. The same approach works for leaders and all firms rebooting after COVID-19:
1) Get to the ground truth
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, describes the need for leaders to know “ground truth.” This is unvarnished, unfiltered truth about the harsh reality. Powell got his from chaplains, sergeants major, inspectors general and normal soldiers.
Get your ground truth from data, facts, and first-line supervisors. They are close enough to the front lines to know the truth, one step back so they can see the forest and not just the trees, and far enough away from you not to be afraid of you.
What is the ground truth for your firm and your practice as a whole? Are you burying your head in the sands or looking at the hard cold facts before you? Are you digging to find these truths?
2) Set a decisive objective
A decisive objective at a decisive place and time is one which, if you gain it, you win – what Clausewitz called the “strategic centre of gravity.”
The “What” “Why” and “When” matter a lot. “The path to superior performance is determined by management’s decisions about where to focus the firm’s strategic resources (time, people and capital).”
3) Concentrate decisive force at the decisive place and time
Powell says, “Concentrate combat power at the decisive place and time,” directing “every military operation towards a clearly defined, decisive, and obtainable objective” – mass, objective, offensive, surprise, the economy of force, manoeuvre, unity of command, security, simplicity.
In the first Gulf War, the US General, Schwarzkopf asked for one aircraft carrier battle group. Powell gave him two because he felt it “added to the insurance policy that would give us ultimate victory.”
Jimmy Carter failed to rescue the US hostages in Iran and later said, “If I’d sent two helicopters, I would have been reelected, president.”
Countries that moved swiftly and more decisively on COVID-19 had better results. Countries that have remained decisive in their decisions are much better off than others that are not.
The essence of strategy is the creation and allocation of resources to the right place at the right time over time. This is about concentrating your efforts to create a decisive advantage over your opponent – whether it’s a business competitor or virus.
Identify your key resources and deploy more than you think you need when and where it really matters.
Prepare your troops for success
“In the military, Soldiers given a task they haven’t been prepared for lose confidence in themselves and, fatally, in their leaders.” Prepare them and take the necessary time to get them ready to win.
This is about clear direction, bounded authority, resources, and accountability. Make sure your people:
- Know what’s expected of them – the clearly defined, decisive, and obtainable objective.
- Understand what tactical decisions they can make on the way to achieving that objective.
- Have the financial, technical, operational and human resources they need to succeed.
- Accept their accountability to achieve that objective with those resources.
Your law firm can still make the most out of a year that has been quite eventful. It has brought about unprecedented change in how firms and courts operate.
It has brought about a shift to embracing technology in ways and manners that the legal profession has never done before.
It has brought changes in the work place and in work place culture especially with the adoption of remote working across various professions and disciplines.
You need to be able to steer through this period and come out tops. It is possible.