What is Smart Growth & Why is it Critical for Businesses and Legal Teams?
Smart growth: is growth that is sustainable, built for long-term success, and scaleable.
All companies face a new economic reality where the biggest concern is profitability rather than exponential growth. A reality where “growth no matter how much it costs” is no longer the mindset a company can have. Growth is still critical, but it has to be smart. Companies that grow smart are ones that make the most out of their budgets, give their teams the tools to be as effective and efficient in their work as possible, and work proactively with changes in the business and legal landscape. By doing this, companies ensure that no business opportunity gets lost.
Smart growth is about,
growing sustainably – reducing waste, and increasing value and efficiency/growing by subtraction of waste and not just adding resources
building for long-term success – creating processes that are effective and efficient, consistently assessing their performance, and finding ways to improve them
being scaleable – creating processes that work for the entire organisation, as you naturally add more team members to all teams throughout the company
Since legal is an essential part of a strong company foundation and growth, legal operations must be considered an essential part of smart growth. Applying the Lean Legal framework to your legal operations will help you lay a strong legal foundation and it will also give you a head start on your competition. You’ll be able to create the best possible conditions to win because you’re working efficiently and effectively with legal, and you’re consistently improving and innovating.
We’ll revisit each stage of the Lean Legal framework and look at how it contributes to smart growth.
The measure step in Lean Legal allows you to look closely at where you are spending your time as an organisation on legal and how much time you’re actually spending. Measuring is the first step to take to have a clear understanding of where you may be wasting your most critical resource – time!
Growth doesn’t need to be only an additive process – adding team members, adding revenue, etc. – it can also be a subtractive one. Growth can come by simply eliminating wasteful processes and getting more out of what the company already has by making everything more efficient. By eliminating wasteful processes, saving time, and allowing team members to use their skills on more complex and important matters the company can grow without adding anything more on top.
So start with measuring where you are spending your time, and how many resources you’re using – start using data associated with legal processes to make better decisions and help you grow.
Assessing in Lean Legal gives you the opportunity to evaluate/reevaluate, question current processes, and align the legal team’s goals with the company's goals. By doing this, you ensure legal activities are always working towards the common goal and not accidentally getting in the way of getting work done and deals closed.
The assess step also encourages you to look at what processes and tools you have in place for having a complete overview and control over your legal. In this stage you should be looking into where all of your company’s legal documents are stored – are they scattered everywhere? Do you know where the latest versions are? Is everyone using the correct versions with the most up-to-date terms? Having an overview and everything in one central location will help you reduce the amount of time spent on finding contracts, and it can also save you from having contracts out there that have old and less-than-ideal terms.
This stage also asks you to assess where automation can be helpful and can even help reduce risk. Legal can be complex, but about 90% of everyday legal tasks are repetitive and should be automated. 90%...imagine how much time that saves you! No more 30-minute meetings to discuss which terms are needed in an NDA – you can automate questions like that. Automation is going to help you reduce the amount of repetitive, low-risk, administrative tasks which means saving a lot of time and a lot of money. Again, growth from subtraction can be a powerful thing!
This gives your legal team more time to focus on the overall company goals and make more strategic decisions, as well as work proactively with regulation changes that could impact your business.
To grow smart, the legal team needs to innovate! Working in the same way year after year without questioning or improving will only put you behind your competition. With legal being such a foundational part of business, there needs to be an innovative mindset in this team as well if the company is going to win.
Part of innovating is using smart technology to improve results and behavior. A lot of technology that teams incorporate to help them improve and be more innovative and efficient with their day-to-day actually doesn’t do much for them other than help with easing efforts on time-consuming tasks…it doesn’t change the actual process or way of working with the task. Investing in smart technology that helps and encourages changes in processes and behavior will give your legal team a competitive edge. It will give the team the tools not only to succeed but also to consistently improve upon current processes to make them better for the company.
To sum it all up
Legal is critical for businesses to grow – this we all know. So why shouldn’t we be looking at ways to leverage legal even more to help with growth? This doesn’t have to mean adding team members or a bunch of different resources, it can also mean reducing – smartly and efficiently – wasteful tasks, repetitive work, and overall time spent on legal activities that are not actively adding value.
It’s time to make legal lean in businesses, and we hope we’ve been able to convince you of the same.