The term ‘disruption’ or ‘disruptive innovation’ is the buzzword commonly used in business circles to describe how small companies with minimal resources are able to enter a market and displace an established system. Tony Robbins (www.tonyrobbins.com) describes it best when he says disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market-leading firms, products and alliances.
The question is, does this also apply to the legal fraternity? Will we see the displacement of established market leading firms and alliances and who will lead this revolution? For us to understand this, it is important that we unpack what disruptive innovation is and if it is really necessary.
How do you identify ‘disruptors’?
Tony Robbins further submits that ‘disruptors’ often need lots of time to make a real impact in their respective fields. He writes that ‘sometimes it can take years for the true effects of disruption to present itself in the market. Most true disruptors aren’t setting out just to be disruptors. Like any other business owner, they’re trying to provide a valuable product or service to their customers.’
What disruption is not?
To quote Tony Robbins further, he argues that ‘If an idea existed before, it’s likely the business isn’t disruptive. But something like radio or television – those changed the entire entertainment industry and therefore embody business disruption’.
So what does this mean for the legal fraternity which has been in existence for so many years?
Should I pursue disruption to achieve my success?
Not every successful business or product needs to disrupt. The quest should be to find new and better ways to engage and retain your clients. In fact, most true ‘disruptors’ are not setting out just to be ‘disruptors’. Like any other entrepreneur, people who were later categorised as ‘disruptors’ were just entrepreneurs trying to provide a valuable product or service to their clients.
By anticipating and adapting to the changing needs of your clients, innovation and disruption will occur naturally. It is important for legal entrepreneurs to put their focus on solving problems for their clients rather than focusing on disruption.
Can the legal industry be disrupted?
According to Lauren Keys (www.entrepreneur.com) the best innovation strategy for business is self-disruption. To stay relevant, companies must adapt and evolve, which means finding new ways to disrupt the economy and recapture market share. She further argues that to truly thrive, a company must always focus on client experience, which includes devoting resources to solving future problems or they will find themselves the victims of disruption.
The future that everyone spoke about with respect to innovation in the legal fraternity is in progress. Technology is being introduced globally to make the provision of legal services seamless, quicker and cost efficient. Corporate entities have for the past 10 years been building their own legal teams and dictating how and at what cost legal services should be provided.
The question is not whether the legal industry can be disrupted, it is more a question of who will be disrupting it. We submit that it would be best if the legal industry is disrupted by lawyers themselves and we can only do this by thinking outside the box and constantly equipping ourselves in order to become our clients’ trusted adviser. Are you up for the challenge?