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Alt. Rock(s): is alternative in-house technology moving mainstream?

Last week, Windsor played host to the annual Alternative In-house Technology Summit. Packed to the rafters with senior in-house lawyers, heads of legal, service providers and leading experts, the summit was replete with insight, collaboration and debate. Stephanie Stevenson and Nigel Rea share their four key takeaways:

Number one: Outputs over inputs

Over the past few decades, many industries have moved from a charging model based on inputs – to outputs. The consumer pays for what they want, not how the producer gets there. Chris Fowler from BT knows this well, heading up a telecommunication business that itself moved from selling minutes, to selling connectivity. The clarion call here is a steady shift away from the billables model to deliverables.

Number two: People + process

Jon Doyle, Chief of Staff Legal at Barclays, has around 150 secondees at any one time. Over the course of his career and because of the demands of his current role, he understands the importance of people and process. You need to get the right people; this will be a mixture of legal and non-legal capability, for example: project managers, business analysts and engineers. It is crucial that you also scrutinise your processes and analyse the workflows so you can iron out bottlenecks and inefficiencies. This was partly echoed by Paul Peake (Legal Director, StubHub), who reinforced the importance of identifying pain points then working with the team to understand whether the solution should be human, process or tech (or combinations thereof).

Number three: Battle against inertia

As humans, inertia is our default state. Neuropsychologist, Dr Helena Boschi, explained that although we have great potential for change, we often fall back to older (perceived safer) habits. Whether we like it or not, our brain is hardwired against risk and uncertainty. In some respects, the laws of physics and psychology are echoed here. This means, however good an idea, change is resisted. To combat inertia, we need to use powerful and effective communication with compelling, emotive language.

Number four: Baselining

If you want to demonstrate a transformational change in your legal department, you need to know where you’re starting from. Sounds basic, but baselining is an incredibly important step that lots of us need to consciously consider. Historically and (for most) currently, lawyers have not been good at capturing data. This means, we need to actually build in time for our legal departments to do a baselining exercise and really understand where they’re at. Only once you truly understand your status quo, can you improve and demonstrate success.

In conclusion, and to paraphrase a classic quote that was used at the conference: ‘If you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.’

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