Predictions are click bait. Pretty vacuous stuff. Keep calm then carry on as you were. Who gives a toss anyhow? Truly, people don’t, apart from a few who have nothing better to do than keep the plates of future happenings spinning in the hit and hope strategy that something beyond their control will miraculously save them.
It gets better. Predictions about areas people don’t know much about never mind actually work in. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G-! Suddenly everyone is a big data, legal analytics, artificial intelligence expert. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen, “I work with a lot of legal analytics engineers, I consider some to be my friends. You are no legal analytics engineer.”
For them, the hit and hopers, predictions are like catnip. The year end marketing ordnance for email carpet bombing campaigns spun into infographic calibres to try and make them more interesting. Big enough to be heard, empty enough to make zero impact. This strategy rarely starts conversation, it just makes people dig deeper bunkers.
And predicting the bleedin’ obvious doesn’t count. Saying technology will be important is a bit like saying there will be a World Cup in 2018. The hard bit is predicting who will win it.
To amuse you…there will be a young intern in one of these companies that predict who, probably this morning, will present their click analytics. They will look at all the people who clicked and RT’d. They will add up all the followers of those people and say, I kid you not, “our predictions blog has been exposed to 876,417 people on Twitter.” Job done. FFS! I know this because I have had to endure such meetings.
I was asked at a conference recently what I thought would happen in 2016. My reply was, “To be honest I have no idea.” The relief on people’s faces that they weren’t going to be lectured to by someone who didn’t know them or their challenges…again, was all too obvious. And anyhow even if I could predict the future attending a GC conference would be pretty low priority.
That’s the truth about so called experts. They have lulled us into a sense that they know something we don’t. And they don’t have to stress about any of that timeline, delivery target nonsense that the rest of us have to in the real world. No they can qualify it “within 5 years” or something else sufficiently vague and non-commital, constantly shifting their sands with an always fuelled get away car. They get away with this because we let them.
I am not actually anti prediction if it creates a wider conversation and purpose but it rarely does.
So here you are, another click in the wall. I appreciate the irony of posting this and adding to the noise. So…
…here’s another view, as a thank you for making it this far, my virtual ‘chin chin’ to you. I am not really qualified to confirm these other than the fact that I clock in, clock out of this sector day in and day out. And in that clocking in/out process I see patterns of behaviour, distilled below.
Until the intellectual (advice, reason, judgement, trust) is clearly separated from the process (organising, measuring, visibility, alerting), as a point of serious discussion then things will remain ‘as is.’ It will be the same with prediction blogs in 2016, 2017 and probably 2018.
Intellectual and process are two entirely separate things. But they coexist. They need each other. It’s Legal’s greatest barrier to progressing that it thinks they are one and the same. Music, photography, publishing, retail etc have all worked this out. The intellectual (the song, the portrait, the novel) have all remained but the process has changed.
It gets better. The thing Legal hates is operational process. Something to tolerate at best, at worst ignore. Lack of process is one of the reasons that other heads of function look at Legal in a bemused way, “how the heck do they actually run their department?
Getting the department properly organised isn’t even on the to do list. It’s usually low, low down on the ‘the things I suppose I’ll have to do one day’ to do list. That state of mind is a collective failure not by the GC but by those who can help them. Predicting a solution in a far, far away land, to put it politely, does not help.
But process has a sting in its tail. Process throws a knowing smile back at Legal like the very last passenger who strolls onto the plane avoiding all the first aboard panic rush and says “you ain’t going anywhere far without me.”
The irony of course is that by neglecting process you ultimately diminish intellect or at best make it a painful experience. And without intellect you can’t have process. You grudgingly take the pain for that ‘trusted advice’ and because there is pretty much only one bar to sup at what can you do? Play it safe of course.
Intellectual is the safe space, the comfort zone. Process is kind of new, not what you were built to do. Jeez there are courses, report things and a whole new language. Sod that! Just dress it up with a bit of lip service, no one will notice or bother that much anyway. You are amongst friends after all. For the really daring buy the cheapest software box, keep the receipt so you can show it to the FD or whatever steering group it was agreed at. Plus the procurement boys did the pre-flight checks anyway. Didn’t they?
The telling and worrying signs are when I am told, “We know we need technology, we don’t know what we need and we don’t know who to ask.” These are not junior people telling me this. Nor are they people who don’t know tech. It bothers me that we accept the current status quo because there is little or no trust between the buyer (GC) and the supply chain (tech vendor, law firm, LPO etc etc etc). I think we are all, collectively, better than that. Much, much better than the thin veneer of press release bullshit that always teases us with possibilities but never truly declares reality.
Those words above that are frequently uttered to me are something else. That’s a human crying out for help. Do you walk on by or do you do something about it? Getting involved and changing stuff is hard, very hard but it is also rewarding. What they don’t want to hear is mumbo jumbo about deep domain expertise. What they want to hear is “It’s okay, you are not alone? I’m a bit scared too. How can we work this out, together?” And that means being human.
And us humans, we are completely unpredictable.
ps if you want a really good read on predictions here is some wisdom