Innovation can be easier than execution, but less useful

The Economist, Oct. 13, 2007 at 10, makes a point that managers in law departments ought to take to heart. Generating ideas for what a law department ought to do is the easy part (See my posts of June 25, 2007 on innovation; and Oct. 29, 2006 on creativity and references cited; and my article on creativity in law departments.). Exploiting new ideas in a useful way has always been the hardest part.

The article discusses how companies have come to focus more on effective follow through and execution than on dreaming up innovative practices. One executive who is quoted suggests that “passion and vision” might account for only 20 percent of the total endeavor to raise operational excellence.

So, rather than invent a new budgeting process, a general counsel should take pains that the existing process works reasonably well. Rather than customizing contract management software, study the process and make sure fundamental steps are done well and continuously improved (See my post of Nov. 16, 2005 on kaizen.).

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