Leading change (part 3)

Leading change to document automation. This is the last part describing how a company or firm, who deems that the implementation and introduction of a contract assembly solution such as the Weagree Wizard entails a major change of process, should prevent that such implementation and introduction ends up in a failure. Or, more generally, how can projects be undertaken such that they have a greater likelihood of being successful?

In the preceding parts 1 and 2 on leading change to contract automation, I discussed the first six steps of major change-process projects. I took the work of John Kotter[1], a leading authority in the field of change management and modern leadership, as an example. In summary, the first six steps would require the company or firm to:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency.
  2. Creating a guiding coalition.
  3. Developing a vision and strategy.
  4. Communicating the change vision.
  5. Empowering employees for broad-based action.
  6. Generating short-term wins.

I already indicated that the implementation and (organisational) introduction of the Weagree Wizard (or of a company-wide upgrading of model contracts used by the business) should not be exaggerated but also not be underestimated. Being aware of what a truly major change of process would require will certainly help in making the right choices for smaller projects. Steps 7 and 8, the final steps entail the following:

7. Consolidating gains and producing more change. Once short term wins follow the one after the other, the major pitfall is to declare victory too soon. Like people may feel confident about the completion of one single major transaction, they will realize that this does not make them great contract drafters or deal-making negotiators. A true crack will probably remain hesitant about his (or her) quality of work even after a series of major transactions. When a company or firm introduces the Weagree Wizard as their document automation solution, each person should be encouraged to start and continue working with it. Also when work pressure increases (or rather: particularly in such circumstances). This is of course because commodity work should be commoditised and not be ‘promoted’ to bespoke services[2].

8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture. You have to walk the extra mile: when you finish a marathon, your jacket and phone are still on a considerable walking distance (this is at least true for the NYC Marathon). After implementing the Weagree Wizard or making important upgrades to your model contracts, it is absolutely necessary to anchor the new approaches into your organisation. The ongoing improvement of model contracts must be both ascertained by effective and efficient process ‘rules’; the amendment of existing and the making available of new model contracts; actual monitoring of performance through the Workflow of the Weagree Wizard; reviewing the level of seniority of staff and in-house counsel appointed for maintaining the Weagree Wizard’s contents and for reviewing model contract upgrading suggestions. I would strongly recomment that you establish a best practice group (and sub-groups) for continuously reviewing and improving model contracts[3].

[1]     John P. Kotter is professor at Harvard Business School and author of the bestseller Leading change.
[2]     Richard Susskind, The end of lawyers, Oxford University Press 2009 (e.g., see Chapter 2, distinguishing five ‘steps’ from bespoke work, via standardisation, systematisation, ‘packaging’ to commodisation).
[3]     In my book on this website, you will find many suggestions for efficiently and effectively upgrading model contracts (click here and then “Ten steps to a successful upgrade of your model contracts“). If you have any suggestions for further improvement, please let me know!