While it’s no secret that in-house legal teams are made up of smart people who can master new technologies, it’s also no secret that the adoption of technologies that leverage artificial intelligence is an enduring challenge for them. How is it that teams of capable lawyers are failing to successfully adopt AI technology? While there are many possible answers to this question, a well-documented one concerns the heart and mindset shift required to make change happen and, also, to make it last. Enter the psychology of change and the phrase “change management”.
Change management is a concept not specific to in-house legal teams let alone the legal industry. It is relevant wherever change is required to an embedded process and aims to help organizations promote and maintain change. Ultimately, the goal is to avoid a situation where the implementation of an AI technology does not deliver on what is promised, or, at worst, fails. There are several well-known processes for managing change which have been developed over decades by leading consultants. Here, we look at four specific strategies in-house legal teams can use to adopt new AI technologies. These are: creating a sense of urgency, bringing your team on the journey, becoming a superuser, and proactively engaging with your customer success manager.
Create a sense of urgency
There’s nothing like a deadline to sharpen your focus, and the same is true for implementing new AI technology. Creating a sense of urgency refers to ensuring that the goal you want to achieve is seen as something to be prioritized:. it is easy to let the goal drift until it becomes an issue or never happens. An in-house legal team should create and maintain a sense of urgency around the implementation. The attitude should be that the technology needs to be implemented as soon as possible to solve the pain point for which it has been chosen. A team with a positive attitude can create a buzz of excitement around the implementation. Without a sense of urgency, other issues, be they work related or not, risk taking time and attention away from the implementation and lead to delays.
Bring your team on the journey
When it comes to the adoption of AI technologies at the team level, it is crucial all members feel included and confident their views are heard. Often, there will be just one key contact from the team who will liaise with the technology provider about the project. While this helps ensure a clear line of communication, it carries a risk that other members of the team may feel distant and out of the loop. To guard against this, it is important the key contact communicates well between the wider team and the provider. Bringing the team on the journey also means all members of the legal team understand the pain points the AI technology is intended to fix and how this will occur. If the implementation moves faster than the team can cope with, or they do not understand the objectives clearly, the desired level of buy-in is unlikely to be achieved. Team members who fail to appreciate the value of the new technology are likely to be resistant to adopting it come the go-live.
Become a superuser
A superuser is someone who has mastered a new technology. It speaks to the idea that it’s easy to learn the minimum amount necessary to complete a task, but much harder to master the advanced features and in-built processes that can really supercharge a team’s workflows. Those who invest time and effort in adopting new technology will gain the greatest benefit. While this level of mastery may not be practical or necessary for all the team, depending on their individual needs, if at least one member becomes a superuser they will be an invaluable asset in driving adoption. Alongside this, make the most of any training resources with which you are provided. These are usually available but often underutilized by teams during the implementation process. Making these available and easy to find for any new users cannot be understated.
Engage with your customer success manager
If you are fortunate to have ongoing support through a customer success manager (CSM), engage with them proactively and regularly. As their title implies, they are there to help you make the most of the new technology and achieve long-term success. That means ensuring the technology delivers on expectations and solves the pain points as was intended. It’s a win-win for the provider too, not only can they receive regular feedback from you, they can help maintain recurring revenue. Conversations with your CSM should be about more than just complaints concerning the day-to-day use of the technology or requests for support. They should also cover higher-level objectives and a review of the adoption results. Honest feedback is valued and can go a long way towards building a transparent and long-term relationship with the provider.
Implementing change is about more than just capability, of which there is no shortage in in-house legal teams. It involves the very human element of changing hearts and minds so that the power of AI technologies is harnessed and used to its potential. There are well-known strategies and processes that can be adopted to help foster this and which, if not done well, risk reducing the effectiveness of new technology. By using strategies like those above you can feel confident that change can be implemented and managed successfully. And although there is no guarantee of success -as with anything - adopting proven strategies will give your team every possible chance of change implementation being a successful, positive and long-lasting experience.