Innovation Shorts: Think Differently, Raise Your Game

In the last article, we revealed the ground-breaking use of time travel to improve legal innovation efforts. We don’t like to brag, except to note that we got there before #elonmusk. This month, we could not resist another test-drive in our machine to see more of Diane Homolak’s golden rules of LegalTech implementation in action.

Design Compromise

Devoted fans of this series (three according to the last Gartner survey) will recall that our previous time-trip took us to a challenging contract lifecycle management (CLM) system rollout. Now we find ourselves in month 5 of the project. Two junior members of the legal department are at their laptops, weeping silently as they pore through line after line of contract details in the corporate database. Uriah Zod, the company’s general counsel, is wandering through the department so that he can get to know his team better.


Zod: ‘Sup dogs? Proof-reading, or Grand Theft Auto? He chuckles to himself. The associates dry their eyes and try to smile. James, the more confident of the two, explains what they are doing.
James: Well sir, we’re actually assisting with the new CLM rollout. Unfortunately, someone has to go through every single contract we are putting into the system, to align them with our naming convention.
Zod: Naming convention schmaming convention. This is madness. The tool is meant to cut down manual labor, not increase it! Who has subjected you to this appalling slavery?

Paul, unwilling to let James elbow him aside in the bonus cycle, chips in.

Paul: Sir, this is part of the updated implementation program that’s just been rolled out. Something to do with the CLM tool’s data features.
Zod, placing a reassuring forehead against Paul’s: It’s OK son. I’m here now. We’ll get this sorted. And please, don’t call me sir. It’s your Honor. Leave this with me.

Zod summons his Innovation VP, Sarah, to his chambers for an explanation.

Sarah: It’s a bit unfortunate, your Honor. We need to link older contracts with more recent ones in our system, through parent-child relationships. The way the method works is to include the parent agreement name in a field within the CLM record…

Zod raises a finger, interrupting Sarah mid-sentence.

Zod: … I am both bored and confused by all this. Respectfully. Two valued and fashion-conscious members of our department are stuck at their desks reviewing every single contract we are migrating into our CLM. All because of a naming convention. Now forgive me… Zod begins to chuckle, a little manically. … but this doesn’t look like the kind of productivity we signed up for when we embarked upon this project. What we are missing here is that innovation mindset, that yearning for efficiency that our Founding Fathers brought to this country. Forget about naming conventions, let’s just use numbers for the wretched agreements!

Zod pauses, letting the brilliance of his proposed shortcut sink in.

Sarah: That would have been a great solution, your Honor. But the CLM tool doesn’t allow for a unique identifying number to be used instead of a name – it’s just a design feature. So we have no choice but to work through the contracts to fix misspellings, overlapping agreement names etc. That’s why James and Paul are slogging through the process. Not sure why they are both wearing those Prada gilets, though.
Zod: Right. I see. That does clarify things for me. Well, send the lads my regards when you see them next. And see if you can find out where they got those gilets from.

Golden Rule: Understand your tool’s design compromises and think about the impact on process and resource.

More Innovation Shorts to follow. Next time – Part 4…

Sylvain Magdinier

SVP & SME Contracts, Compliance & Commercial Services