Are you a lawyer who is an innovator?

A friend gave me a book… titled "Best Practices are Stupid… 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition" by Stephen M. Shapiro. Intriguing title… right? It challenges conventional wisdom. And in some cases is a slap-up-side-the-head.

Here are some of Stephen’s tips… (I’m paraphrasing a bit.)

1. Don’t think outside the box, find a better box. Firms spend time on finding solutions to problems that just don’t matter.

2. Expertise is the enemy of innovation. The more you know about a particular topic, the more difficult it is for you to think about it in a different way.

3. Be the aspirin for your clients’ pain. Meet people where they are… with all their challenges and frustrations.

4. Innovate where you differentiate. (What makes you different from the lawyer down the street? This will be a filter that guides your thinking to a whole new level of innovation.)

5. You get what you measure, but will you get what you want? Too many innovation-measurement systems are designed in a way that inadvertently creates undesirable behavior.

6. Failure is always an option. Redefine failure… build it, try it, fix it. (Don’t fear failure… use it as a stepping-stone to get closer to success.)

7. The "top-down" philosophy should be left to convertibles. Central control is a fatal conceit. You just may control yourself out of business.

8. Don’t put the "NO" in inNOvation.” Stephen says… don’t use the words “yeah, but.” (A colleague of mine says you have to love every idea for 15 minutes.) 

9. How can you make the impossible possible? What if you could become masterful at making the seemingly impossible possible? What if, instead of looking for realistic solutions to challenges, you started with solutions that seemed impractical?

10. Sometime it’s logical to be illogical. Illogical combinations can lead to truly logical solutions.

A slap-up-side-the-head… right? I know that this kind of thinking is very uncomfortable territory for most lawyers. Yes, best practices are stupid… IF… your goal is growth and INNOVATION. So I challenge you to pick two or three of Stephen’s tips and incorporate them into your business development strategy. Just imagine what you could create by the end of the year simply challenging conventional wisdom… AND, most importantly, by challenging yourself!