‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new’ – Socrates

This quote highlights the biggest barrier to change every firm will face: ‘focus all your energy’.

Adaptability is important – effective business leaders steer their organisations through dynamic economic cycles, changing client needs and the impacts of new technologies.

However, in today’s world, who can truly devote themselves entirely to change? It requires time, money and experience – resources not all law firms can afford.

Whilst all your energy may not be allocated to managing change, its importance cannot be understated. To maximise the time you spend, consider the 5 Cs:

1. Cost

Do the proposed benefits of change outweigh the costs involved?

The most appropriate way to look at this is in terms of return on investment. Change will cost money. However, if implemented effectively, it will also accrue numerous benefits. You must ask yourself: is it worth it?

To determine whether the benefits outweigh the costs, it is important to have an idea of the expected results of a change initiative, and then measure and leverage these benefits once it’s is implemented.

2. Conversion anxiety

Will the fear of change keep you from moving forward?

With change comes a certain level of anxiety. The fear of the unknown combined with the disdain for disruption and the loss of control can prevent firms from effectively implementing change.

To combat this, ensure that all aspects of uncertainty are either addressed or accepted. Where the change is dependent on an external supplier or consultant, fully explore their ability to effect positive outcomes by seeking evidence such as testimonials and reference sites.

There’s no use in getting cold feet and implementing half-measures – effective change is usually all or nothing.

3. Climate

Is there a culture of innovation, flexibility and adaptability across the firm?

To be effective, change must be accepted at all levels of an organisation. Fostering a positive can make all the difference. Resistance can slow the process down and minimise any expected benefits. So who will ‘champion’ the change amongst your team?

4. Clarity

Is the purpose of the change clear to all stakeholders?

Change will affect each member of the team. To be effective, the purpose must be clear to all involved. The team needs to be part of the journey so they not only support the change but own it, ultimately saving you time and effort.

For the purposes of clarity, it is important to communicate the following:

  • Why the change
  • How will this change be implemented
  • How will the change affect the team
  • What is expected of each team member
  • What are the expected results

Change may also affect clients. Communication to and feedback from clients is essential to minimise adverse impacts.

5. Competency

Are members of the team capable of working in this post-change environment?

Change often means different expectations of those affected. It is important to ensure that team members have the skills, knowledge and experience to undertake their new responsibilities. In this area, training and communication are key.

Socrates’ “secret to change” is forward-thinking, as your law firm should be. Whilst it may be unreasonable to focus all your energy on change, start by scoping out the  program by using the 5 C’s. This exercise will:

  • Provide clarity as to what the right solution might look like
  • Identify key success factors to include in your implementation plan, e.g. training, staff communication etc
  • Get you started towards the change
  • Identify suppliers and consultants that are aligned to your interests before you fully commit

Ultimately, adhering to the 5 Cs will mean your practice starts building the changes needed and maximises the benefits delivered.

About Stella Angelo

Having spent a lifetime in the financial services sector (primarily in project delivery and sales and marketing roles), Stella now consults to professional services firms to help them grow their business by delivering cash flow smart solutions. Organisational change is most effective where it builds on each business’s current culture and capability. In other words, why deliver a luxury car when a reliable run about will do as a starting point!