On January 17, 2023, The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) and Elevate partnered to host a webinar entitled ‘Effective Communication to Maximise the Value of Strategic Initiatives.’ Conducted as a discussion facilitated by Devdeep Ghosh, Vice President of Consulting at Elevate, the webinar featured four panelists: Jen Warner, President of Raley’s; Veera Rastogi, Worldwide VP of Law, Supply Chain, Real Estate, Procurement & Technology, Johnson & Johnson; Bill Casey, Deputy General Counsel, Harman International; and Steve Harmon, COO and General Counsel, Elevate.
The Why and How of Strategic Initiatives
The webinar began with a discussion of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of strategic initiatives. Panelists emphasised the importance of aligning the law department’s strategy with the business organisation’s. The law department can then turn the organisation’s strategies into department initiatives. Panelist Bill Casey recommended that law departments start with the corporate strategy, develop a legal strategy, mission, and vision, and then determine the initiatives to drive that mission and vision. Veera Rastogi of Johnson & Johnson recommended that law departments consider what they can add to the business’s objectives. In developing ways to make these contributions, leaders should focus on achieving tangible, measurable outcomes demonstrating the law organisation’s contributions, impact, and value.
For the ‘how’ portion of designing and implementing strategic initiatives within a law department, panelists emphasised the importance of speaking directly with stakeholders or conducting ‘listening tours.’ A crucial component of these conversations is asking stakeholders what is working well, what is not working, what they would like to see more of, what is not adding value, and what they appreciate in their law department colleagues. These interactions also provide an excellent opportunity to socialise the law department’s strategies and ask stakeholders for their support. These conversations should occur as part of the change management process because they can increase stakeholder engagement and buy-in. Law departments may gain additional benefits by using an external provider (such as an alternative legal services provider or ASLP) to facilitate these conversations to encourage focused, in-depth conversations in which all stakeholders are heard.
Maximising the Value of the Initiatives
The next portion of the webinar focused on maximising the value of strategic initiatives. Panelists discussed the need to establish a common understanding as the first step. This means ensuring that all stakeholders understand the purpose, scope, high-level steps, effort/impact on the team, and outcomes (i.e., ‘What’s in it for me?’). The next step involves communicating and messaging the change. Panelists emphasised the importance of thoughtful, effective communication tailored to the company’s culture and designed around information from stakeholders shared during the listening tours.
The third step in maximising value is to execute against the plan using various tools and strategies such as project management, subject matter experts (SMEs), and a RACI matrix (to define tasks, roles, and responsibilities). Panelists also discussed solutions for challenges that often arise during execution, such as limited resources. Jen Warner emphasised the importance of prioritising which initiatives will be supported by the law department, which initiatives will be supported by someone else (such as the procurement organisation), and which initiatives will not receive any support. This prioritisation allows law departments to distribute resources strategically and successfully execute against the plan.
The last step is to measure and report on outcomes. According to panelist Steve Harmon, this step involves quantifying the outcomes. For example, law departments that do not track cycle times on legal contract negotiations miss an opportunity to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Panelists also discussed the importance of using both ‘soft’ measures (e.g., quality improvement, risk reduction, and job satisfaction) and hard ones (e.g., outside counsel spend, turnaround time for contracts review, etc.). Panelists emphasised the importance of going beyond tracking data by using it to drive change.
Strategic initiatives have the potential to provide tremendous value to law departments and the businesses they support. By incorporating the processes and techniques shared by the panelists, law department leaders can maximise the benefits of such initiatives and their contribution to aiding the business’s pursuit of its strategic objectives.
To learn more about the Association of Corporate Counsel and other upcoming webinars, please visit https://www.acc.com. To learn more about how ALSPs can help support your law department’s strategic initiatives, contact Elevate.
Co-hosted by The Association of Corporate Counsel and Elevate, the January 17 webinar, ‘Effective Communication to Maximise the Value of Strategic Initiatives,’ featured Jen Warner, President of Raley’s; Veera Rastogi, Worldwide VP of Law, Supply Chain, Real Estate, Procurement & Technology, Johnson & Johnson; Bill Casey, Deputy General Counsel, Harman International; and Steve Harmon, COO and General Counsel, Elevate, with Devdeep Ghosh, Vice President of Consulting at Elevate, as the moderator.