Broadly speaking, my preferred approach to change in law departments has three components: (1) dive in without over-thinking, (2) encourage emergent change from the ground up that is flexible and multi-pronged, and (3) honor kaizen, the constant tinkering – or rubbishing – of practices to improve them.
One way to unleash all three of these values occurs to me in the context of outside counsel cost control. Have each lawyer in who manages outside counsel try some cost-reduction action each quarter. The lawyers then report to each other, candidly and constructively, about what they tried and what happened. Those discussions should spur some of them to introduce variations on another person’s idea, adopt a good idea wholesale, or strike out in another direction. All to the good, I say, as it lets intelligent people pick among a cluster of ideas for those that appeal to them, it pushes for innovation and adaptation, and it is populist (See my post of Aug. 21, 2008: techniques to save costs with 24 references.).