Promoting a culture of innovation can help employees to generate new ideas and new ways of working to match these new demands. With this in mind, Ed Fletcher, CEO of limited law firm Fletchers Solicitors discusses steps businesses can take to ensure they can innovate successfully to stay relevant in an ever-changing market.
Real innovation can be a catalyst for the growth and success of a business. In real terms, innovation comes down to implementing new ideas, the creation of new exciting products or investing in improving existing services to help position the business as a market leader – one which both customers and competitors should take notice of.
Certain sectors are considered to be more closely associated with innovation that others, for example the tech industry has to constantly evolve and innovate as new technology is developed. However, one industry that does not immediately conjure up ideas of innovation is the legal sector. The legal sector is largely considered to be quite traditional and perhaps archaic in its structure and ideals, however because of recent changes in legislation even this sector has had to adapt and innovate to stay ahead.
Major changes to the legal sector
The introduction of the Jackson reforms in 2013 sent shockwaves through the entire industry as it forced lawyers to drastically reconsider how to secure new business. The new changes meant that the ‘no win, no fee’ business model was completely turned on its head. Once this new legislation came into play it meant that firms had no choice but to dramatically rethink their strategies. Following this significant change, the law firms that were able to flourish were those that became more business-minded and embraced new tactics in order to promote their services and bring in new clients on their own.
Changes that affect business can occur within any sector at any given time and so organisations must have the ability and flexibility to innovate and respond effectively. To help nurture innovation there are a number of steps businesses can take:
- Conduct market analysis – This can help to identify current trends and can predict the direction the sector is likely to take in the future. It can also help identify how key competitors are operating. Also, if a business has an innovative idea, conducting market research will help to obtain key insights and determine how successful it could be.
- Develop a responsive plan – Once market analysis has been conducted, it should be easy to identify clear areas for improvement. A plan should then be put in place to help make these improvements as swiftly as possible. For example, when the Jackson reforms came into place, at Fletchers we were forced to adapt quickly to the changes. We were forced to take the initiative and formulate a plan as to how to respond. In the end the new legislation meant that we had to cease reliance on third party companies for our medical negligence work. Because of this we were forced to come up with new ways to promote the business and instead we chose to market ourselves directly to the public.
- Invest in innovative staff – To help nurture an innovative team, it is essential to hire and retain employees that are dynamic and creative in their approach to business. This can ensure a business can actualise its goals as these innovative employees can help to drive change. At Fletchers it is our belief that bringing professionals in from different industries can help to increase the talent pool and offer a fresh approach. To help us innovate, we’ve hired non-lawyers and non-executive directors to help with the business acumen.
- Develop a culture of innovation – Innovation requires strong leadership and staff with a natural talent for identifying great opportunities, whilst still being able to weigh up any potential risk. A culture of innovation means that a business is constantly questioning its place in the market and is not afraid to experiment and adapt. Usually this type of enterprising business has a strong innovative leader at the forefront with their finger on the pulse – someone who can positively influence other employees’ behaviour.
- Importance of flexibility – To fully embrace innovation, managers must be able to adopt a positive attitude and be open to new suggestions. It is important they are able to take on board new ideas and be open to amending the current business model. It is useful to investigate what other industries have done in order to innovate. Have any other industries faced similar challenges? If so, how did they overcome them and can this work for your business? Ideas might not be completely mind-blowing, but implemented in the right way, they could revolutionise the industry.
- Allocate resources – In order for a business to move forward and promote innovation it is important to ensure that the right amount of resources are put towards achieving these new goals. In many cases this means persuading management that innovation is something that should be taken seriously, as the return on investment could be huge.
- Encourage free-flow of information – Encouraging a free-flow of information and ideas across the whole of the business can help to develop new ways of performing tasks and can also lead to the development of new products. One way to do this is to reward employees for their ideas as this helps to encourage innovative behaviour.
- Invest in training – To help build a business’s knowledge of innovation it is important to invest in events, seminars and workshops. This can help employees learn from other organisations and to identify opportunities’ within the business.
Legislative changes forced the whole legal sector to dramatically re-think its business strategies and, to stay ahead of the market, firms were forced to innovate and adapt. Businesses within other sectors would be wise to take stock of the changes that happened within the legal sector and perhaps revisit their own business strategy. This can help to ensure that the business has the flexibility to adapt to change, is able to stay two steps ahead of the competition and is able to drive the business forward in a competitive environment.
For more information, visit www.fletcherssolicitors.co.uk