Thank you to Not Your Average Law Job™'s friend and supporter Gimbal – Lean Practice Management Advisors for supplying this article. If you’re an entrepreneurial lawyer frustrated when things take longer or seem more difficult than they should be, the legal professionals at Gimbal can help you improve your practice’s operational efficiency.
The hardest part of making changes in your law practice is avoiding the inevitable backslide.
A successful improvement project changes the way people work. It may free up time or improve client outcomes. It leaves your team feeling excited and positive. That’s great! But when you hit a bump in the road, the initial excitement fades, or people get really busy, it’s very tempting to revert to the tried and true (if inefficient) old ways.
You need to ensure that your improvements continue to be implemented, so you are reaping the benefits for months and years to come.
Here are five strategies to make your changes stick:
- Diligently track a metric that demonstrates improvement over your baseline: To do this, you need to establish your baseline and regularly compare your current performance against that baseline. This one is going to take constant vigilance, but it will pay off.
- Communicate your new process and your improved performance: Ensure people know why they need to follow the new policy, how it fits with your firm’s strategy, and how they will benefit. Celebrate your improvements. Everyone must understand what’s in it for them.
- Give people the right training: Create clear maps and practice guides for the new process. Provide training and make sure everyone (even busy partners!) knows that following the new process is not optional.
- Reward compliance: As you create your new process, consider ways you can make it easy for people to comply, and build in incentives that will reward compliance. Rewards can be small and intangible; even a little public praise at regular intervals improves compliance.
- Change beliefs. Most importantly, people need to believe the new way is easier, faster, and better for them. One of the best webinars I have seen on this aspect of change is Jamie Flinchbaugh’s How to Drive Improvement Behaviors To Increase Performance Gains.
Making your changes stick is definitely the most challenging part of process improvement. But by thinking about how to make the new process stick as you design it, by building aspects of control right into your new system, you can improve your chances of success.
David (President and Co-founder at Gimbal)