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Outside-In Design Thinking With Intrapreneurship

Posted by LMA International on May 14, 2018 10:24:56 PM


Go outside of your world, and start with divergent thinking.

Struggling to drive innovation within your firm? 

Define your antibody.

During today’s Intrapreneur Bootcamp at LMA’s P3 – The Practice Innovation Conference, Josh Kubicki and Kim Craig of Bold Duck Studio introduced a design-thinking framework for defining new ideas and creating a plan for advancing them within your firm. “Design thinking is about thinking through the customer’s perspective — defining the problem outside-in, rather than from an insider’s perspective,” explained Josh as he opened the workshop.

And while we’re defining things, intrapreneurship was defined by Kim and John as “building what can be inside of what already is.” Being an intrapreneur within a law firm is especially difficult given the preference within most firms for following precedent and the status quo.

Kim suggested that delivering value for attorneys isn’t just about how quickly one can deliver what was asked for. Adding value is about helping internal clients accomplish whatever it is they are setting out to do. Accomplishing their underlying objective may require a different approach than what was originally requested.

In the Bold Duck Studio framework, we are encouraged to ask, “What job needs to be done?”

Better defining the answer to that question helps one clearly focus on outcomes, especially when asked with an inquisitive mind and a focus on desired outcomes that might be below the surface. Things like “make me look good” or “improve my social standing” can be even more powerful desired outcomes than the obvious “update my LinkedIn profile,” and plant the seed for a more valuable solution.

Design is about broader thinking ― go outside of your world, and start with divergent thinking before settling on an answer.

For larger change initiatives, choosing a sponsor and understanding your “antibody” can be the key drivers of success.

An antibody is the person who makes it their job to seek out newness and kill it. They are invested in, or comfortable with, the status quo. Sometimes they have emotional reasons for killing change, but sometimes the reasons point out flaws in your new product, service or solution. You need to anticipate these people, seek to understand their perspectives and drivers, and find a way to combat them. That means looking at your idea through their eyes and modifying it to be less difficult or threatening, or finding a compelling reason to get on board. Another key aspect of combatting antibodies is finding a sponsor. It is the job of the sponsor to help you fight the antibodies.

During the workshop, Josh and Kim set forward several change scenarios and led the group through a process for generating ideas, choosing and clarifying a solution, identifying the sponsor and the antibody, and creating an environment for successful implementation. As each table group reported on their process and solution, it became evident how effective this process can be.

In one real-world example, by more clearly mapping and understanding the “job” and the pains and gains of their antibody, the team realized their current approach was likely never to work. They needed to go back and reinvent the solution in order for it to be accepted by key constituents within the firm. Better to figure that out now, on paper, rather than to run into that same roadblock several months down the road. Rethinking the solution up front increases odds of success and prevents false starts.

Want to learn more about legal intrapreneurship? Download Josh’s new ebook, “Six Suggestions for Legal Intrapreneurs."


As Chief Strategy Officer, Josh Kubicki leads market-driven development and key growth initiatives for Seyfarth Shaw. As part of the firm’s business leadership, his areas of focus are growth strategy and innovation.  In his role, he oversees the firms practice development, marketing, business development, pricing, Lean solutions, business design and business intelligence teams.

Josh is a recognized expert, thought leader, and entrepreneur within the legal sector, particularly on business of law, future of law, design-thinking, changing competitive landscape and evolution of legal buy practices.

Topics: Marketing Management and Leadership

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