Leading change (part 2)

Leading change management to contract automation. In a preceding blog, I addressed the three first steps necessary for a successful implementation of changes of processes. Those steps included (1) the establishment of a sense of urgency (everyone should believe that a change is necessary), (2) creating a guiding coalition (top-down, the chosen new way of working is endorsed in word and behaviour), and (3) developing a vision and strategy (business propositions and other advantages are expressed and applauded).

In this blog, I will discuss subsequent steps related to upgrading model contracts or introducing the Weagree Wizard.

The steps elaborated on below, are identified by John Kotter[1], a leading authority in the field of change management and leadership.

4. Communicating the change vision. A general counsel and senior managers must not only endorse the vision (and implementation strategy) that are inherent to the introduction of document assembly software such as the Weagree Wizard. They should also express that vision and strategy: what are the advantages of the Weagree Wizard in terms of business facilitation, time gains resulting from reduced drafting time (increased productivity) and much shorter response time of the legal department, reduced business transaction cycles, enhanced compliance and great risk management achievements? What are the priorities that should be set when making choices? It is important that the general counsel, senior managers and the best practice group choose proper and effective communication means to introduce the ‘Weagree Wizard way of working’, to convey a vision that the forthcoming way of working implies a major relief for the workload and freshens the type of work that remains. Communication comes in both words and deeds. (Nothing undermines change more than the behaviour of seniors contradicting the verbal communication.)

5. Empowering employees for broad-based action. Empowering your legal counsel or attorneys to run the new way-of-working implies that eventually, the change requires a bottom-up commitment. If those who need to embrace innovative ways of working have no believe in it, all change efforts will fail. It implies that senior management should not only create the necessary opportunities and applaud the initial efforts to get used to the anticipated way of working. They should, together with all related lower levels of responsible persons, encourage the new way of working and be prepared to face the challenges. If, for example, it appears that the model contracts are not of good quality, time must be created to improve those models. That might require the involvement of a company’s law firm (or Weagree) to provide additional support. Whenever senior, well-intentioned managers avoid confronting obstacles, they disempower employees and undermine success. Failure is in the detail.

6. Generating short-term wins. Complex endeavours to implement innovative ways of working loose momentum if there are no short-term goals to meet and celebrate. Introduction of the Weagree Wizard needs to take place step-by-step. First a small group of ambassadors should be introduced to the new way of working. Even though the Wizard is highly intuitive and flexible to work with, if a user fails to create a contract (for whatever reason, even his or her own inability to push the right button) the easiest escape is to blame the software application. Similarly, if a company or firm desires to upgrade model contracts, the best way to achieve momentum would be to start with apparent ‘no-brainer clauses’ such as the ‘Miscellaneous’ section: probably 65 percent of all contracts consist of such type of clauses and phrases; unifying them in one or two stages implies a major milestone. And a quick success.

Continue reading part 3 on leading change management to contract automation

[1]     John P. Kotter is Konosuke Matsushita professor at Harvard Business School and author of the bestseller Leading change.