As confident as I may have sounded in my first blogpost (“I expect this course to help me manage the organizational changes required to harness the power of technology in my Legal Department.”), I was actually pretty nervous about this class. Admittedly, law is more of my thing than technology and I don’t consider myself particularly savvy in cloud computing, bitcoin, or any of those high-tech “things.” As it would turn out, I didn’t need to be (phew!) because I had great classmates able to supply knowledge, as needed, on those topics. While it was not surprising that my classmates were able to teach me so much, I do find it surprising that the inverse was true: I really was able to participate in the tech discussions! A lame accomplishment to some, but one that really was an important one for me.
Our class operated how a boardroom should: everyone bringing along their own bucket of knowledge and providing different takes on the same topic. Ultimately, our discussions resulted in an extremely diverse and well-reasoned analysis of the different and always-evolving technology industry. The perspective I was able to bring was, of course, the legal perspective which, again, I found to be so surprisingly applicable. I mean, raise your hand if you thought literally everything we spoke about had a legal implication!? Maybe I shouldn’t sound so surprised. Well, here’s another one: raise your hand if you knew “lex” means “law” in Latin? Lex literally got digital this semester, folks! So, let’s talk about it:
Digital transformation is just about the only constant you can rely upon. We learned in the 5-star ranked book, The Transformation Myth: Leading Your Organization through Uncertain Times (BUY IT HERE!) that companies should be constantly evolving and adapting to changing environments. While COVID was the big shock that rocked traditional office-life structure, it should not have been as big of a rock to companies that have been transforming and – more importantly – have adopted a culture that supports digital transformation. It is, thus, unsurprising that, as the awesome (best, superb, out of this world) book (BUY HERE!) provides, companies who leveraged COVID – or any other disruptor – as an opportunity instead of an inconvenience made it out better, and will continue to do so.
It’s really all about that culture “thing,” though, that I mentioned. The Transformation Myth (BUY IT HERE!) speaks on the leadership traits, business principles, and organizational roadblocks that either help or hurt adaptation in times of disruption. It builds off the ideas established in its predecessor book (equally impressive; buy HERE!!) which explains the mistaken belief that business challenges caused by digital technology need to be solved by digital technology just as well, a/k/a The Technology Fallacy. I mean, it’s truly unbelievably that digitally matured organizations have a distinct culture made up of five explicit factors:
Get steppin’ (across the organization, that is). We learned that cross-functional project teams more successfully implement organizational digital transformations. And here’s where the real life application comes in: the legal department I work in is in-and-of-itself a cross-functional team in that we have five different skill and age levels as well as regional locations. However, the largest digital transformation I was involved in cross-functioned between the project management department and, you guessed it, the legal department. The idea is that subcontractors are all their own varying levels of digitally mature, but that – following COVID – everyone knows how to use a QR code. On the back end, we spend a lot of time analyzing different change requests from subcontractors, and need to do the dreaded manual data entry for all of these changes to determine whether it is a viable change worth accepting and/or submitting to the owner with the suggestion to accept. As follows, we created a standard form for subcontractors to fill-in, that’s accessible via QR code. All great, but how do we enforce that? Legal! I’ve been working with the project team to draft the contractual language needed as well as helping on the IT side to get the form itself in such a way that we can have standard contract language to enforce the use of it.
In case you didn’t realize (because I sure didn’t at the beginning of the semester)… law is everywhere, and you should be sure to use attorneys that get the business side of your problems:
It’s really one of the main reason companies like Pfizer were able to thrive during the pandemic. Had they not initially had a strong compliance backbone supporting safety and security standards, they would not have been able to even be eligible for the undertaking. Similarly, if they did not have lawyers helping deal with the intellectual property issues and evolving governmental regulations (and relations), they would not have succeeded. Many other reasons, but lawyers played a big part!
Technology is always changing. As managers, it’s our job to maintain a culture that understands that and willfully adopts such changes. This will make your organization stronger in the long-run, as explained by the authors of The Transformation Myth (BUY IT HERE!). It’s all about the culture. Adopting what the authors call a mindset of “digital resilience,” or an attitude designed to welcome continuous adaptation and maintain general grit, is really the key to success.
Again, buy The Transformation Myth (HERE!).
Let’s not lose touch. As we bid our weekly tweets and blog comments adieu, I hope that we nonetheless continue to stay in touch with the changing technological landscape. I also hope that we stay in touch with one another. I’m actually pretty bummed that I will no longer have Olger and Chris within arm’s reach when I have some crazy high-tech thought. And I hope that none of you hesitate to reach out to me for a funny twitter handle or paper title, something cool about construction, or for your friendly digital lex-er (lex = law for those of you who I bored earlier in this post).
Oh, and I was really serious: if anyone wants to get going on the LPM (legal project management) software start-up, HMU! New handle: @lexgotdigital