Because this is a busy time of year with burgeoning professional and personal to-do lists, I’m not going to add to them save this one piece of advice: drink more water.
That is, get up from your desk and out of your office and go to the firm café, coffee bar, kitchen, ping-pong table or patio. Then, talk to your colleagues.
Lawyers and legal marketers need time away from specific tasks to give their minds breaks to chew on projects and problems subconsciously. Stimulating conversation with colleagues can provide the same creative boost as a morning shower.
More importantly, though, creative problem solving doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s highly interactive. Numerous studies, including those from the MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory, have looked at what makes successful teams. MIT researchers found that the best teams:
Talk and listen in equal measure, equally among team members.
Engage in frequent informal communication.
Explore for ideas and information outside the group.
Being a member of the creative class—and legal professionals very much are--means we thrive in a collaborative environment that stimulates our minds. That’s why we cluster in creative, typically urban, hubs. This isn’t to say that closing your door or working remotely isn’t productive. Some times, it’s the only way to get things done.
But if we are to create solutions for clients that are greater than the sum of our parts, we need an open environment, physically and intellectually. This means a corporate culture where all ideas are up for debate, people are confident enough to ask questions, are free to confess they don’t have an immediate answer, and aren't threatened by asking others for input.
The integration of design thinking at some disruptive law firms, the wider adoption of alternative fee models and the advent of more open office design all facilitate this kind of interaction. What kills it? Silos (physical and otherwise), a culture where traditional methods of problem solving aren’t questioned, and the pressure to not only bill, but look like you’re billing.
We know sitting at our desks is bad for our health. It’s also bad for business. So get up and get something to drink.
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