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A wonderful method for collective learning by the leadership group of a law department

The general counsel of Rockwell Automation, Doug Hagerman, has graciously allowed me to excerpt his description of a learning project he undertook. Every law department could try a variation on this technique.

“Faced with the challenge of wanting key members ready to become GC, either here or at another company, I identified the corporate secretary (CS) function as the largest gap in the knowledge of my people. So, I and my direct reports divided up the CS subject matters.

Each of us took a major area, such as audit committee and financial reporting, executive compensation, stock plans, fiduciary duties, securities liabilities, etc. and prepared written materials and four hours of teaching/discussion on our area. We took turns teaching each other, one topic per month over six months. Each topic was broken into two sessions of two hours.

The benefits were (a) people really learned a lot, (b) people took a lot of pride in doing a good job on their sections and looking good in front of their colleagues, and (c) it was a fantastic team building experience, as we actually found ourselves becoming friendlier with each other during our times when our usual day-to-day silos and roles were irrelevant. We looked forward to these meetings as a chance to learn and interact. We collected the materials in a binder that now serves as a resource for reference regarding all of the main aspects of the CS function. It was a total success.”