P3 – The Practice Innovation Conference is around the corner! We sat down with Jeffrey Carr, President of ValoremNext LLC, for an exclusive interview on his upcoming keynote. Read on for a sneak peek, then register for the conference if you have yet to do so.
Legal Marketing Association (LMA): What is the most important business lesson you learned when working as General Counsel?
Jeffrey Carr (JC): I pretty quickly learned that my real job was not to be a lawyer but to be an executive in charge of the legal function. That role includes: first, helping the company achieve its business objectives by removing barriers and mainland the ethical compass; second, providing right-sized legal services to the company; and third, forming & managing a high-performance legal team to achieve the first two roles. I learned to speak business, not law. I realized that the company is not in the business of answering interesting legal questions. I concluded that, as a customer, the company wants results, not legal activity and that they should pay for outputs, not inputs.
LMA: In a blog post on ValoremNext, your partner describes four stages in the evolution of law. How are those stages important for P3 attendees to understand corporate versus in-house client service?
JC: It’s the core concept and folks need to decide where they are on the continuum and where they want to be. There are four types of legal providers along this continuum and four phases of development. In the former, the provider types are Old Law, New Law, Engaged Law and Next Law. These phases relate to the matrix involving value billing and temporal focus. The first two are still billable hour based — with the second focused on labor or cost arbitrage. The third is focused on effectiveness and the value of the services. The final stage relates to prevention as opposed to reactive fire fighting. and time focus (past or future).
The development phases relate to the focus of the delivery of legal services themselves. The first wave looks at what the legal provider does — savings comes from denial of service. The second wave on who does it — savings come from self-help empowerment and arbitrage. The third wave looks at how the work is done — savings come from process optimization. The final wave looks at why the demand for legal services arises in the future — and, as above, true step change savings come from prevention. After all, the best legal problem is the one you never have.
I’ll describe and develop each of these concepts more fully in my upcoming keynote address (on May 17).
LMA: What is your No. 1 key to creating and managing a high-performance team?
JC: Getting the right people on the bus. You’ve got to start with a vision — that needs to be consistent with the company’s vision. Based on that vision, you develop core values, or principles. Those principles yield rules — or behaviors consistent with those values. You then build or buy tools to implement those rules to conform with your principles and realize your vision. You simply cannot have the “not me” folks on the bus — those that will not comply with the rules and demonstrate the values you insist on. That means making sure you recruit and hire those that buy into that vision and those principles. For people already on your team, it means conversion or moving them to a place more compatible with their principles and behaviors.
LMA: How do the three Ps you will discuss in May relate back to the three Ps of the conference?
JC: LMA uses a different, more limited, set of P3 principles than mine; however, mine relate quite closely to, and encompass LMA’s. First, I use what I refer to as P3-Prime. This is the overarching mantra and discipline to build any organization and it involved Principles, People and Platforms. I also use P3.1 which is the Process Management element of Platforms. This relates to the standardization of all of the process in an organization and is based on Policies, Publication and Perfection. This is a closed system to manage the ownership, operation and optimization of processes used by an organization. Since, in my world, Projects are simply a set of Processes put together end-to-end to create an output. This takes us to P3.2 the Project Management element of Platforms. This relates to the way all work in the organization is actually performed through Planning, Performing and Perfecting. That’s a lot of Ps — and I’ll link them to LMA’s third P of pricing at the conference.
LMA: At the conference, we talk a lot about practice innovation. What has been your proudest experience in driving innovative change within an organization.
JC: It’s hard for me to identify any one thing. Within the company, I’d have to identify three things. First, the work we did as an executive team to identify and develop our Core Values, because we focused not only on the words, but more importantly on the behaviors associated with them. In other words, what we expected from everyone at the company and what they could expect from the company. Second, the adoption of a structured lessons-learned process in the company for things outside of crisis management and engineering. The CEO witnessed my conducting a form of a fast-track lessons learned known as a “Hot Wash” with my team. He liked it and soon had me doing it at every executive team meeting and with some board meetings. The discipline soon migrated out of the C-suite and began to become part of the DNA of the company. Finally, the life cycle contract management process we developed. While the legal team “owned” the contract formation process and created a “playbook” for negotiations, we realized that those aspects weren't sufficient. The real challenge was to create a practical contract review and formation process to assess and accept contractual risk appropriately while conducting operations. I think this last element was the least appreciated yet most significant thing we did in the FMC Technologies Legal Team.
Outside work with companies, it has to be my participation in the ACC Value Challenge: Starting in 2008, the ACC took the lead in fundamentally changing the nature of the conversation between law firms and their corporate clients. There is no going back and it is immensely gratifying to have been involved in getting that freight train moving.
LMA: If you were to give a young professional just starting out advice on the business of law, what would that advice be?
JC: Stop thinking like a lawyer. To help with that:
- Read Susskind’s Tomorrow’s Lawyers
- Listen to Manager Tools
- Watch "Jerry Maguire" & "Moneyball"
- Subscribe to Executive Book Summaries®
LMA: In 140 characters or less, convince readers to come to your keynote.
JC: Catch, miss or get hit by the train: Make no mistake, P3 has left the station. The time is now. http://bit.ly/1SqErXl #LMAP3 @OneDegreeLaw (Tweet this.)