Autto blog:

What Marginal Gains and Black Box Thinking can teach us about implementing #legaltech

 

by Ian Gosling

I was chatting to a staff member at a leading law firm last week and the discussion turned to the Olympics about to start in Rio and the 2012 London Games which took place just twenty minutes down the road from the office.

One of the sensations of 2012 Olympics was the sweeping success of the British cycling team – 8 Gold, 2 Silver and 2 bronze medals. Interviewed by the BBC trackside at the Olympic velodrome, team leader Dave Brailsford explained his philosophy of marginal gains that was to make him famous beyond his sport:


“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.”

In managing his team Brailsford looked at all aspects of his teams lives, not just the big factors like diet and physio but many seemingly trivial areas such as the pillows they slept on at night and the team bus. Later interviewed by Clare Balding on the radio Brailsford went further:

“If you look for innovation which are big step changes – we all look for those but they are very hard to find. Very challenging to search out. So we took the approach, more of a philosophy really, lets look for every single small step that we can find and lets take those small steps.”

What’s interesting about this statement is the acknowledgement that massive innovative leaps are hard to find and we would argue hard to implement as well. At the Games the French team couldn’t understand how the British were going so much faster when they were using the same wheels. They were convinced Brailsford had masterminded some innovative leap in wheel technology. In fact he was using the same wheels as the French (When asked Brailsford told L’Equipe they were “round”) and it was the team’s aggregated marginal gains in other areas that won out.

What if we were to apply the same thinking in improving legal practice? Rather than shooting for the wholesale transformation of a practice through large scale technology implementation, what if were to focus on marginal gains? Something as small as automating the production of a standardised letter that normally takes ten minutes so it can be done in 1 minute. Furthermore that automation reduces human error. Then move onto other documents and processes, at each point making marginal gains then the overall gain would be massive. We call this automation of small steps micro automation.

Let’s assume that routine work takes up 40% of a lawyers available time, the remaining time being used for work requiring human judgement, bespoke elements and communication – the real value added by a lawyer. Now let’s assume we can use process optimisation and automation to reduce the time spent on that 40% of routine work by half. That means we have now got a further 20% of the lawyers available time to populate with real value-added work. In doing so we have increased productivity by 25% (100-20=80 100/80=1.25). That is more than a marginal gain.

Finally in addition to hard measurable benefits this approach can also help make a more intangible change in culture. As British cycling Olympian Chris Hoy put it: “…most of all we point the mirror at ourselves and ask ‘how can we get better?'”

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read Other Posts

Autto wins government support for office automation

Autto wins government support for office automation

Autto wins UK Government support to introduce office automation to the accountancy, insurance and legal services industriesAutto Grant Award UK Research and Innovation has recognised the importance of office automation to the service industry with the award of a UK...

read more
What is office automation?

What is office automation?

What is office automation?   Introduction Think of the average office job - how often do most of us perform the same sequence of tasks every week or every month?  Even in the most varied of jobs, there is an element of dull, repetition and in admin heavy roles...

read more
LegalTech Trends 2019

LegalTech Trends 2019

2019 promises to provide opportunities and risks for individuals in the LegalTech community. Here are six trends that we see impacting LegalTech this year.

read more

Meet The Author

Ian Gosling

Ian Gosling

Founder

Ian Gosling has worked for leading firms in technology, product and venture development.

Get more posts like these

 

Sign up to receive blog posts, useful information and our occasional, but informative newsletters in your email

To unsubscribe use the link in the email or contact data@autto.io

Share This