(a) What looks like a people problem, is often a situation problem

Contract-automation change management may disregard the context, the environment. Psychological research of preventing obesity revealed an interesting fact: if you want people to eat less popcorn, the solution is simple; give them smaller buckets. No matter how bad the popcorn tastes, people appear to eat much more popcorn from an endlessly filled large bucket than from an endlessly filled smaller bucket. The research proved how easy it is to turn an easy change problem (shrinking people’s popcorn buckets) into a hard change problem (convincing people to think differently about their eating habit).

That is a first surprise SWITCH tells us about change: what looks like a people-problem is often a situation problem:

  • If you allow yourself to work on your model contracts without deadline, your work will never end. After all, model-contract maintenance is a lawyer’s core business, never to end. Try to find a natural deadline perceived as a true one: allow your model contracts team to hire a cabin in the woods and make it happen before returning.
  • If you work on model-contracts-in-Word-documents, you will never get to enjoy the benefits of automation where a different dynamic applies:
    • in Word-documents you may be inclined to think in terms of ‘workable’ (not too many options to keep the model contract attractive),
    • in an automated template such workability is irrelevant (computers can handle indefinite numbers of clause options).
  • If a legal department believes that once a model contract is released as such, it will not be changed for the next decade, think again: for a legal department, contracting is a core business process that should never end; as your businesses evolve, your model contracts should develop. Make model contract know-how development a recurring item your legal team’s meeting agenda.
  • If your colleagues feel uncertain about their talents to draft excellent model contracts in perfect English, then realise that not working with model contracts for years is anyhow worse.