A man recently approached me during a break in a workshop I was running and said, “You ran innovation at a large global law firm, right?” No matter how it’s worded, this is always a tricky question. My title at the firm was Innovation Architect and I was tasked with finding innovative uses of technology to solve problems within the firm. But I had no direct reports, no budget, and as a ‘non’ at a law firm, it’s hard to say I actually ran anything. Still, I had some very successful innovation initiatives at the firm, so for the sake of brevity I replied, “Yep.”
His eyes lit up as he inched closer, “Good, you’re the man I need to talk to.” He glanced from side to side, then speaking just above a whisper asked, “How do you innovate a law firm?” I laughed, smiled broadly, and told him the truth. “You don’t.” His eyes fell, and I immediately felt terrible, so I tried to buoy his spirits by asking him a few questions about himself.