COVID-19 Resources for Lawyers
Featured Guest
Heidi K. Gardner

Dr. Gardner has lived and worked on four continents, including positions with McKinsey & Co., Procter & Gamble, as...

Your Hosts
Dennis Kennedy

Dennis Kennedy is an award-winning leader in applying the Internet and technology to law practice. A published author and...

Tom Mighell

Tom Mighell has been at the front lines of technology development since joining Cowles & Thompson, P.C. in 1990....

Episode Notes

Collaboration has become essential in today’s complex world, and research-based strategies can help you do it better! Dennis & Tom welcome Dr. Heidi Gardner to discuss her practical experience and academic research on collaboration and how lawyers can benefit from her insights into the legal profession by becoming a more effective team.

As always, stay tuned for the parting shots, that one tip, website, or observation you can use the second the podcast ends.

Have a technology question for Dennis and Tom? Call their Tech Question Hotline at 720-441-6820 for answers to your most burning tech questions.

Heidi K. Gardner, PhD, is a Distinguished Fellow and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNow and Colonial Surety Company.

Mentioned in This Episode

A and B Segments: Interview with Heidi Gardner

Parting Shots:

Transcript

Kennedy-Mighell Report

Smart Collaboration with Dr. Heidi Gardner

[Music]

Intro:  Got the world turning as fast as it can.  Here how technology can help.  Legally speaking with two of the top legal technology experts, authors and lawyers, Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell.  Welcome to the Kennedy-Mighell Report, here on The Legal Talk Network.

Dennis Kennedy:  And welcome to Episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report.  I’m Dennis Kennedy in Ann Arbor.

Tom Mighell:  And I’m Tom Mighell in Dallas.  Before we get started, we’d like to thank

our sponsors.  First of all, we’d like to thank Colonial Surety Company Bonds and Insurance

for bringing you this podcast.  Whatever court bond you need, get a quote and purchase online at colonialsurety.com/podcast.

Dennis Kennedy:  And we’d also like to thank ServeNow.  A nationwide network of trusted,

pre-screened process servers work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves embrace technology and understand the litigation process.  Visit servenow.com to learn more.

Tom Mighell:  And we want to mention that the second edition of our book, The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies is available on Amazon.  Everyone including our special guest agrees that collaboration is essential in today’s world, but now more than ever before knowing the right tools will make all the difference.

Dennis Kennedy:  As I like to say at the start of our recent podcasts, what a difference another week or two makes and the unexpected just keeps happening.  In our last episode, we started with a deeper look at the second brain project we introduced in episode 263.  In this episode, we’re excited to be interviewing a very special guest as part of our goal of adding regular interview shows to the podcast.  Tom, what’s all on our agenda for this

Episode?

Tom Mighell:  Well Dennis, in this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, we will indeed be having an interview with our special guest, Dr. Heidi Gardner, the distinguished fellow and lecturer on law at Harvard Law School.  And the author of several books on collaboration for lawyers and other knowledge professionals.  And as usual, we’ll finish up with our parting shots that one tip website or observation that you can start to use the second that this podcast is over, but first up Dr. Heidi Gardner.  Dr. Gardner is a distinguished fellow at Harvard Law School Center on the legal profession and faculty chair of the school’s Accelerated Leadership Program and Sector Mentorship Masterclass.  She’s the co-founder of Gardner and Co. and most important for the purposes of this podcast, the author of three books; Smart Collaboration, How Professionals and their Firms Succeed by Breaking Down Silos, Smart Collaboration for Lateral Hiring and the brand-new Smart Collaboration for In-House Legal Teams.  Heidi, we’re so happy to have you on the Kennedy-Mighell Report today.

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Oh, thank you so much for having me.  It’s a real honor to be here.

Dennis Kennedy:  Heidi, when I was looking through your materials and your LinkedIn bio especially, I like what you’ve said about turning a soft subject into hard evidence for why collaboration is becoming truly essential in today’s complex world.  Would you tell us a little

bit more about that and what evidence do you study and how do you turn that to help you

explain what is essentially a soft subject?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Well Dennis, you know, we are working hard to dispel the myth that collaboration is a soft topic.  We have collected millions of data records from across all kinds of law firms and other kinds of professional service organizations, financial institutions, health care institutions and so forth and we can demonstrate empirically.  We bring math and economics and science behind our way of analytics to understand what are the

outcomes of collaboration.  So, I mean, just to be very concrete here.  What we have from any given law firm might be a decades worth of timesheet records down to the six minute increments that show who’s worked with whom, for how long on which projects, who originated the matter and sent it to who else and that allows us to quantify collaboration at this micro behavioral level and then what we can do is through these sophisticated econometric models, we can plug in that measure along with all kinds of other factors that you would expect to affect outcome measures.  So, we take a look at what year it was

because some practices are cyclical or countercyclical, what practice group, what year, what gender and all sorts of other demographics are associated with this person, the status of their law school, you name it we throw all of that into the to the model and then we predict

outcomes like revenues and profits and client longevity and we’re able to isolate the effects of collaboration and demonstrate empirically again and again and again that collaboration pays out and we can show the actual financial upside to increased collaboration.  That’s

the approach we’re taking to make it more of a hard subject rather than a soft one.

(00:05:03)

Tom Mighell:  Well, it’s certainly welcome because you’re sort of preaching to the choir with us, but I think that having the understanding of collaboration within the legal

profession has been a long haul for people and I think that being able to back it up with some hard evidence I think is very welcome on our part and maybe let’s dig into that evidence and I’m going to maybe flip it just a little bit.  So, in your research and in reading your book in your research you found kind of that the bigger the team, the more collaboration, the more work generated, the better the benefits, which I think seems to work well with larger firms that represent equally large or equally complex clients with complex issues.  A lot of our listeners on this podcast are either solo or smaller firm lawyers.  Can you maybe give us an analog first for these types of lawyers to think about and benefit from collaboration?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Absolutely Tom.  And if you’ll forgive me for one minute.  Let me take a step back and just make sure that we’re not talking just about throwing more people on a team.  Nobody likes to be over lawyered and when we talk about smart collaboration, we’re really very careful to use that qualifier smart to denote that it is incredibly thoughtful and mindful.  When we can demonstrate that more practice groups, more lawyers on a team

generate more value, it’s because they’re each bringing unique insights and experience.  So, just a small clarification there, but to answer your question directly, there is a tremendous opportunity I think perhaps especially for solo practitioners or people in small practices or even boutiques to think about the upside of collaboration.  You know, what we mean by it is bringing together people who have different points of view or basis of expertise so that they can tackle complex problems or in a more sophisticated way than they could do on their own.  So, last year, I was invited to give a keynote to the American Bankruptcy Institute and in a lot of the breaks and so forth surrounding it, we got dozens and dozens and dozens of examples of exactly this.  So, maybe there’s an individual estates and trust lawyer who’s working in a small town somewhere and they could think about very

fruitfully teaming up with other kinds of experts to offer their clients a more holistic point of view.  So, bring in the tax experts, bring in the financial planners, maybe even the health care providers of the home health network, the family office, you name it and team up across those different disciplines in order to make sure that the legal advice that is given is contextualized and sophisticated enough to capture exactly what that client needs think about bespoke and that’s what we’re talking about with collaboration, it allows those different perspectives to come together seamlessly for a client.

Tom Mighell:  Well so I think that that is when you define it as smart, the right people, the right number, it makes a lot of sense.  One of the things that you talk about in the book is being very careful to understand that this is not what many would think of as being cross-selling.  It’s not bringing in people simply for the fact of selling other business, but it feels like to me that unless you really frame it right, unless you do it the smart way, you can get clients to get the wrong impression that we’re just cross-selling.  How do you distinguish?  How do you characterize and make sure the difference between cross-selling and collaborating across expertise or practice groups if you’re a law firm so that clients don’t get that impression?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  So, let me start by saying clients hate to be cross-sold.  Let’s just be clear they absolutely despise it they feel like it’s being done to them instead of for them and the way to make sure that it feels like the user-experience is smart collaboration rather than cross-selling is to start with the client problem.  Let’s really get in there and dig into what are the business issues, what are the strategic goals, what are the commercial risks associated with any particular problem and this means that lawyers have to get far more comfortable going outside their own comfort zone in their area of expertise.  You mentioned earlier, solo practitioners, I find that they are often really well placed to collaborate because they have a very client-centric mentality.  They often are — sometimes are the only legal advisor that a client might have and they get to know that client and some of the goals and foibles of that client and they’re really well placed to have those bigger broader conversations and then to know very carefully what is the boundary of their own expertise and where somebody else is going to add more value or perhaps tackle it more efficiently because they don’t need to get up to speed in a new area.  And that comes across to the user as a gift.  Thank you for being generous enough to bring in somebody else’s expertise.  We know that you could have done this perhaps on your own but you have my best interests at heart.

(00:10:12)

So, you’re bringing in the real expert here rather than trying to take it all on yourself and that experience from a client perspective is very much the collaborative one.  It’s clear that the lawyer then is really putting the client at the heart of it and doing the right thing.

Dennis Kennedy:  Heidi, there’s two things that you talk about and you have talked about that I really like and so one is this client-focus element and then the notion of smart collaboration because a lot of times when we looked at collaboration, we see that everybody is doing it all the time it’s actually been kind of surfaced a bit more through the pandemic and in a sense we’re doing this sort of unintentional if that’s the right word but it’s what we’re doing is not intentional, it’s not mindful and I think that that leads to your notion of smart.  So, I want to ask you in that context, what are some of the key learnings — I mean, I think those are probably two of them but what are some of your key learnings about collaboration among knowledge workers and in particular maybe you touch on what you’ve learned about diversity and the importance of diversity and collaboration.

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Absolutely let me let me bring out a couple of the key learnings.  First, collaboration requires an investment and that means that a lot of the costs associated with truly smart collaboration, getting to know who these other providers are, learning just enough about their business that you can identify when a client says x that means it’s time to bring in this provider and not try to tackle it on my own.  Getting up to speed in these different areas of the law or different domains that takes time and an investment.  And it also takes time to get to know those individuals and demonstrate that you are trustworthy to them and earn their trust and begin to trust them.  So, there are costs associated with collaboration and frankly most of those are born right up front.  Now, those costs do start to drop and sometimes pretty rapidly over time I mean I think in the work you’ve done identifying a lot of the tools and technologies surrounding collaboration, it’s another area where investment is necessary up front and over time as you get economies of scale and so forth, the costs do drop.  Now, the real rub though is right in the beginning when people are thinking about investing in collaboration all the returns are only latent, they haven’t been captured yet and we need people to engage in collaboration to start working with clients in these value-added kinds of ways before you see the revenues, the profits, the client stickiness, before you see your fellow partners far more engaged and excited about their work, before you see the ability to retain your valued personnel even when the headhunters start calling.  Those are all benefits that we know directly derive from smart collaboration but they take time to flow in.  And so, one key learning is the collaboration takes an investment and the ROI period is a really crucial time for people to keep the faith, take small actions to generate wins along the way and begin to generate momentum and then really act like a leader to drive through the implementation until those lines cross because when the benefits start to outweigh the costs and the ROI turns positive, it becomes a much more natural way of working.

So, point number one is be prepared to make some investment but keep the faith that the ROI is truly positive.  Touching on the DNI, I’m so glad that you brought up the diversity and inclusion piece.  It’s one that links directly to today’s situation with this global pandemic and the work from home environment where a lot of us find ourselves.  What we know from research is that in an environment where people are under stress and particularly when they are mediated like this when there’s technology in between them and some other people, certain groups of individuals in an organization are more likely than others frankly just to be forgotten to be left out.  So, anyone who’s on the periphery of an organization because they either look different from people who are kind of at the core and at the heart of that organization or they practice a different religion and they don’t connect with people in the same way or they’re from a different culture, national culture, family background or their new joiners, there’s loads of reasons why people might be somewhat around the outside of an organization and in a work from home environment like we’ve got now, it is far, far, far, riskier that they will be completely left out of the dialogue.  And Dennis, one thing that I want to mention is that nobody — well perhaps a few people, but generally nobody’s doing this on purpose.

(00:15:05)

Nobody’s saying “Ah, let’s isolate that guy” but what is happening is when we’re under stress, the term psychologists use is homophily, it means that as humans, we are drawn to trusting and interacting engaging with people whom we feel a natural connection with.  And by human nature, those tend to be people who are demographically far similar to us and so that risk is — if I finish this interview with you now and I find myself with seven extra minutes at the end and I think “This would be a great time to check in with somebody on my team.”  The person who springs to mind is probably the person — you know is probably my research director.  She had 20 years at McKinsey, we both shared this background where – we both have two kids right.  We have a lot in common.  What I need to do is reach out to one of my summer interns who’s completely different demographic in every way you can imagine and check in with him that’s not going to come naturally to me, but it’s really crucial in order for us to make sure we are giving the right kinds of mentorship opportunities, sponsoring, coaching, development and tapping into their fresh ideas because that is at the heart of what diversity brings to an organization, but we have to be mindful about this and we have to keep reminding ourselves because it doesn’t come naturally.

Dennis Kennedy:  Yeah, I find myself these days consciously when somebody asks me about a new project and who might want to be involved to resist the urge to say, “Oh, Tom Mighell would be awesome on this.  It’s like you kind of really have to force yourself to go outside the comfort zone and say, “No, let’s bring in some fresh faces, fresh voices.”  One of the things I liked about your background and this sort of reflects on my learnings from my time at being at Mastercard at global company which is — being part of a global company like you were at McKinsey and other places you’ve been really has an impact on how you think about collaboration and I think the diversity piece as well.  So, what you have is this great practical experience plus your academic research and the work you’ve done there.  How unique does that make you — I can already tell from what you’ve talked about in this podcast, your insights are really, really strong and interesting and backed up by evidence but how unique are you and how do the rest of us kind of learn more to see from your perspective?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Well Dennis, I would say one of the important characteristics to somebody who’s a good collaborator is humility.  So, I’m not about to touch the how unique am I questioned.  I’m sorry to disappoint.  I will let you and others make that judgment but what I will say is I strive really hard to bring two aspects of my background together and marry those in the work that I do now.  One is my consulting background.  I spent half a decade at McKinsey and we were all about impact.  It was what are we actually changing, how can we make a difference in every organization and in every person in those organizations that we touch.  So, I care about action, I care about execution, I care about implementation and that’s the one piece of what I bring together.  The second piece that I try to marry with that is my pointy-headed academic self.  So, I’m a nerd, I’m not afraid to admit that, I love my numbers, I geek out in crunching data and that is really important because I think that we need to ground what we are talking about in the science and the evidence.  And so, I also try when I’m understanding a recommendation for example that I

will make.  Perhaps unlike some consultants, I don’t make recommendations based on a couple of places where something has worked.  And say let’s replicate that as a quote unquote best practice.  What I will do when I see something that works is dig in.  Why does it work?  What’s the theoretical mechanism that makes a human being operate like that because only then do we know that it’s replicable.  How do I know that those two quote unquote best practices weren’t mere coincidence of some confluence of factors that can’t be repeated?  What I want to know is when I make a recommendation that I can stand on my head and say, “This will work again if this and this and this condition are in place” and if you do these six things and we have boiled them down to those essential six things and I think that’s what comes out of marrying my academic, the theoretical, the empirical, the quantitative side with my action-oriented side is that we get recommendations that we really know are replicable and we understand why they work because that’s absolutely essential to building the case for change.

Tom Mighell:  Well so, what I’d like to talk about for just a second is your new book.  You’ve got a book Smart Collaboration for In-House Legal Teams.

(00:20:04)

Most of my work these days is with law departments and so I wanted to ask how the dynamic is different for collaboration when you talk about law departments versus

law firms or other professional service firms.  Are we considering that the client is the company and the law department is the law firm so to speak or is it a different dynamic for collaboration there?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  It is a much different dynamic, Tom.  And I have to admit that when I wrote my first book on smart collaboration that I wasn’t aware enough about that and I started getting emails from general counsel and other in-house lawyers saying, “We like this idea but we kind of need to turn it north northwest in order to get the right recommendation.”  And so, I will freely admit that my best research ideas are never my own.  They come from really smart tough questions that people ask me and when enough GCs asked me to dig into this or that aspect of collaboration for in-house legal teams, I said “Aha” all right so then being the pointy-headed academic I ended up writing a book on the topic.  I couldn’t help myself but what we find for in-house legal teams is that collaboration is more complicated than it is perhaps for lawyers inside firms.  We have distilled this into what we call four vectors of collaboration.  A vector if you remember your physics you know intro course, it’s a line with directionality and magnitude and in-house lawyers need to be really, really thoughtful about the vector of collaboration that they are operating in.  So, the first one of those is within the legal team.  I’m doing a Harvard case study right now of a big oil and gas company, I’ll be able to reveal it in a few months’ time when the case studies signed off, but what we see there is some real tough dynamics even within the legal team because they’ve got the exploration and production business unit that isn’t operating well with a different production unit or they’ve got different regions and then there’s the center and they’ve got you know people who aren’t lawyers, they’ve got data scientists and all these other people embedded in the legal team.  That collaboration, that single vector is complicated enough but wait, there’s more, I mean, then there’s these other three vectors one, is how does the legal team collaborate with the business.  How do they get in early enough to those strategic conversations that they can truly add value as opposed to being approached after a decision has de facto been taken and then they can only react to it.  Their ability to add value then is extremely truncated.

The third vector is working with other functional areas, HR, compliance, IT and so forth.  And the trouble there is do you have people approaching the same problem from completely different thought worlds and so they have to understand and appreciate why somebody from sales is going to take a very different approach to this problem than they will in the legal department and they’ve got to bridge those gaps in that vector and then the fourth vector just to completely over complicate things, we’ve got every outside body chucked into this fourth vector.  So, it could be the regulators, it could be the trade associations, it could be the lawyers in the outside firms, other kinds of external counsel and advisors.  And figuring out that vector of collaboration.  How does the in-house lawyer work hand-in-hand with any of those external bodies in order to tackle more complicated problems and develop more appropriate solutions.  That’s a real challenge and for all of those reasons I think collaboration looks and feels and operates differently for the in-house legal team.

Tom Mighell:  Well and I think also based on my experience with seeing a lot of in-house legal teams, the way that you describe it, they’ve got their work cut out for them I mean, they’ve got a lot of work to do to kind of get to that point.  I think they instinctively feel where they need to go, I think they feel like they know some of the vectors you’re talking about but actually executing that is a challenge that I think a lot of law departments have.  What we’re going to do right now great discussion, Heidi we’re going to take a quick break for a message from our sponsors before we get back to our discussion with Dr. Heidi Gardner.

[Music]

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(00:25:12)

Dennis Kennedy:  And I’m Dennis Kennedy and we are joined by our special guest, Dr. Heidi Gardner.  Heidi, let’s focus on some of your insights into legal profession which I think are great and I just want to return to the in-house counsel thing because I was one for 12 years and so I think that your understanding is of what the in-house counsel’s role is really good compared to what I see most people doing and at Mastercard, we had this notion that one of the key skills that we needed our attributes, we needed to develop as lawyers was something we call business acumen because we really need to understand what was going on in the business and what Mastercard’s business was and all of that.  So, I think that’s really significant and I think a lot of outside counsel just really don’t get that.  So, I think that’s great what you’re doing.  So, I want to focus a little bit on some more insights into the legal profession.  Now, I’m constantly amazed by organizational issues in the legal profession and I know that you’ve worked in organizational behavior for a long time.  Is it just me or is the legal profession especially dysfunctional?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Well, I have some great friends and phenomenal clients in the legal industry.  And let me bring my optimists mindset to this and what I will say is there is tremendous upside potential in the legal industry.  Seriously, I work across all four of the big four accounting firms, I work in all kinds of professional service organizations, I’ve had the privilege of doing some inside work with places like the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and what I will say is there is dysfunction everywhere.  I think what we need is people who are level-headed enough to understand when things need to change, we need some people who are willing to take some qualified risks and I think we need to get people understanding exactly what you were just saying, Dennis, that this is not the time when we come in with a strict legal answer or even a legal solution.  Think about any of the issues that are going on right now whether it’s COVID, whether it’s the economic dislocation and uncertainty whether it’s racial inequality and access to justice, all of these are business or societal problems and we need people who are thinking about this with an open mind and a broader frankly skill set than simply a legal answer.  My strong hypothesis is that there are plenty of people out there who are curious about these bigger issues and lack the confidence and perhaps the capabilities to pursue it.  And I’d say that right now is it doesn’t feel like it perhaps but it actually is a really good time to take some risks.  It’s a great time to make some connections with people whom you might be curious about.  You don’t understand what they do.  If you’re inside a company, you’re an in-house lawyer, reach out to somebody in the supply chain group and just strike up a 15-minute conversation about what they’re seeing as some of the biggest challenges right now like a real light bulb could go off for you.

If you are working in a law firm, find out more about what your colleagues are doing maybe your colleagues who are not client-facing.  Go talk to a data scientist and figure out what it is that they do for a living and how they can help you figure out trends in your own practice patterns and so forth.  And if you’re a solo practitioner, I’d say go out and find some other people whether it’s through your chamber of commerce or whether it’s through one of your well-connected clients and maybe host a virtual coffee and talk to people about what they’re seeing in particular area, show up with only two or three broad-based questions that allow people to provide their inputs and their perspective and then what I will say is zip it.  Just close up for a minute, pose some great questions and don’t feel the need to be the smartest person in the room.  Really listen, actively listen, use your brilliant skill sets to bring out the best in other people and that will allow you really to learn and perhaps like I was saying with my research, my best research ideas are never my own, they’re questions that people ask me.  I have a strong hunch that for a lot of lawyers, the best work that they will be able to do are driven by great questions they get asked.  And I’d like to challenge people to rise to the occasion and pursue those and team up with other people if you don’t have the answers or even if you think you do, team up with other people who can challenge you a little bit on those fronts.

(00:30:06)

Tom Mighell:  I think when you talk about now being a good time to take risks in listening to some of your previous interviews, early on in the pandemic talking about collaboration then I think the statement Dennis makes at the beginning of our podcast what a difference a week or two makes has really been true is that things have been changing at light speed and we’ve been adjusting and adapting to things.  Now, that we’re here at the end of July, several months into whatever this is.  How has collaboration changed in your opinion?  I mean, what’s new and interesting or what are you seeing that is different because of where we are now?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Well Tom, the funny thing is I’ve co-authored an article with Ivan Matviak on Harvard Business Review, I think it was March 5th or 6th and it came out this same day that Amazon, Microsoft and a whole bunch of other companies sent their employees home and by sheer good fortune of timing, our article was called coronavirus might force some teams to work from home.  And we were thrilled to be able to come out with some really practical advice and what we see since then is that people have moved from business continuity from crisis management to really thinking that they’re just going to muddle through this before real life returns to a much deeper realization that for the long run at least the foreseeable future what we understand collaboration looks and feels like and indeed what we think work looks like has got to change and the one ramification of that realization from people is that we are now trying to figure out at a much deeper more strategic and cultural level.  How we are engaging people in the workforce.  And I don’t just mean how are we going to get the next matter done, how are we going to prospect for work and build the pipeline.  I literally mean how are people going to engage and thrive at work.  What does it really mean for people to feel like they are contributing?  There are decades of research studies out there that demonstrate that when people feel engaged at work when they really feel like they are contributing their best day in day out that they are linked to incredible outcomes, higher productivity, the ability to generate client wins, the ability to sustain client relationships, all kinds of measurable financial and strategic and talent related outcomes of engagement and yet we know that when people are working under sub-optimal environments, plenty of people still working out of their bedroom closet or trying to scrap by and work from odd hours so that they can take care of family members and so forth.

We know that this is really taking a toll on people and I would ask leaders whether it’s in the legal arena or elsewhere to think hard about what they’re doing to engage people and really meet them where they are.  Figure out how to be flexible and indeed lead with compassion because it’s really requires a deep understanding of what people are up against.  I had the great opportunity to talk with a longtime friend of mine, she’s in the in-house legal team runs a very big team about 1800 lawyers at a big insurance company and she’s making this incredible initiative to connect with her front line.  She is running 18 town hall meetings by Zoom every single month and is making sure through that that she’s really understanding what people from the absolute top to bottom of the org chart are experiencing through this pandemic and what she can do and other leaders can do to make it a more productive working environment.  That is role model behavior, it’s connecting with the front line and figuring out what their challenges are and then being creative and flexible and adaptive to figure out know what organizations can do to help meet people’s needs for engagement.

Dennis Kennedy:  So, let me wrap, I suspect one of your answers to this question will be trying to figure out how to teach in an online environment or a mixed environment in the coming semester if not year but what are some of the cool things you’re working on right now that you can talk about?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Well, I will say that being the optimist like I mentioned.  I was one to dig in early and try to figure out how to make the most of a terrible situation and given that I would normally be on airplanes three- or four-times a week and now I’m not ever, it’s given me time to really focus with my team in launching some new products.  So, one of the pieces that we have put together and just launched is the Smart Collaboration Accelerator.  It’s a psychometric test that allows people in about eight or ten minutes to do a self-assessment online and then figure out through the instant access to an online report where their strengths are in collaboration.

(00:35:18)

We have identified through research seven behavioral dimensions of collaboration so maybe somebody is more say hands-on or hands-off when they’re working on a collaborative project.  Neither one of those is inherently better or worse but somebody needs to know what their natural tendencies are and how that plays out in a group because somebody who’s really hands on might think that they’re being really helpful in driving execution forward and everyone around them sees them as an intrusive micromanager.  So, they need to understand how to take those hands-on tendencies and use them for more productive interactions and how to really turn it into a strength.  And so, this accelerator is something that we have been working on for well over a year, we used the pandemic and lockdown as a chance to push it ahead and to embed lots more insights into those action reports for remote working.  So, how do people engage with others when they’re not sitting in the same office and really make those productive constructive working relationships.  So, that’s just an example of one of the tools that we’re working on to help people drive and implement smart collaboration.

Dennis Kennedy:  And we will include a link to that in our show notes so that people can take a look at it if they’re interested.  Heidi, we really want to thank you very much for being a guest on the podcast, fantastic insights, great conversation.  Before we go, can you give us a quick discussion on — tell us about your books where people can learn more about you or how to get in touch with you if they want to do it.

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Absolutely, thank you for asking.  So, we do have a website, gardnerandco.com and that has an insights page with an archive of all of the research we’ve been doing over the last decade plus and people can access the PDFs or the links.  We also have a news and views so any of these podcasts that we’re doing and so forth we can put up on there and links to those.  We also have a catalog there of all of the different ways that we’re engaging with clients and on the website I’d encourage people to explore it and then get in touch, there’s an email there that people can send queries and we would love to engage, I mean, we try not just to talk about collaboration but to actually live it and it’s an open invitation for people to be in touch and start being part of our ecosystem to push forward the smart collaboration agenda.

Dennis Kennedy:  Great.  This has been so much fun and great, I have tons more questions so thank you so much, Heidi.  Just really been a pleasure and now it’s time for our parting shots that one tip website our observation you can use the second this podcast ends.  Tom, take it away.

Tom Mighell:  Actually, we’re going to start with our guest.  Heidi, did you have a parting shot for us?

Dr. Heidi Gardner:  Absolutely.  We didn’t get this in the seven strategies to foster collaboration in a crisis.  The most recent HBR article that I co-authored it has some phenomenal data in there showing from the last financial crisis in 2008.  What happened to people who were more versus less collaborative.  I’d love for people to take a look at that and take a hard look in the mirror and figure out which part of that graph they fall on and what they can do about it.

Tom Mighell:  And I have a sort of a two-part observation about Microsoft teams which listeners in this podcast will know.  We like quite a bit as a collaboration tool.  Neither of them particularly applicable to the legal field but interesting nonetheless if you haven’t read the news, you’ll notice that the NBA has decided to use Microsoft teams as a way of bringing a virtual audience in there, installing 17 foot monitors around the basketball courts and will be using their new together experience to bring people in who will be able to interact with the game and if you’ve been watching some of the baseball now and seeing animated figures in the stands now that they’re putting in there, it’ll be interesting to actually see real people and so it’ll be interesting to see how that works.  The other piece of interesting news is that if we look back to probably March or April when everything started to shut down, Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack said, “Oh no, Microsoft teams is not a competitor to Slack,” there’s no competition there.  Well, this past week, Slack filed a complaint in the European Union against teams saying that they are crushing us and they should not be embedded as part of the Microsoft 365 tool because that makes all Microsoft 365 users use teams instead of Slack.  Be interesting to see the European Union is certainly a friendly audience when it comes to that.  So, it’ll be interesting to see where that goes but the collaboration wars in terms of the tools continue and I can’t wait to see where all this is headed, Dennis.

Dennis Kennedy:  So, I had — somebody follow on Twitter asked the question last week about trying to find diverse photos instead of just like white people to use on their slides and this is something I’ve been doing for a few years and there are some great resources and also because I have been teaching students now I’m kind of hyper aware of this of what people I show in photos I use on the slides.

(00:40:15)

So, there are actually three really good resources for this that are free and they’re royalty free and you can use them in whatever way you want but one is called Raw Pixel, the other one is called Pexels which I’ve mentioned before on the podcast and the other is Unsplash.  And so, they just have a great set of photos, they’re really good, lots of diversity and different perspectives in photography that can be super useful and the one unanticipated side effect I’ve noticed over the last couple years is that when I use photos of diverse people, I’ve had people comment favorably about my slides and my photos without really being able to put their finger on why they like them better.  So, it’s kind of an interesting phenomenon and it’s something I think it makes sense to be much, much more aware of these days.

Tom Mighell:  And so that wraps it up for this edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report.  Thank you for joining us on the podcast.  You can find show notes for this episode on Legal Talk Network’s page for this podcast.  If you like what you hear, please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on The Legal Talk Network site where you can find archives of all of our previous shows along with transcripts.  If you’d like to get in touch with us, please reach out to us on LinkedIn or remember, you can always leave us a voicemail, we love getting questions for our B segment.  You can leave us a voicemail at (720) 441-6820.  So, until the next podcast, I’m Tom Mighell.

Dennis Kennedy:  And I’m Dennis Kennedy and you’ve been listening to the Kennedy-Mighell Report.  A podcast on legal technology with an internet focus.  If you like what you heard today, please rate us in Apple podcast and we’ll see you next time for another episode of the Kennedy-Mighell Report on The Legal Talk Network.

[Music]

Outro:  Thanks for listening to The Kennedy-Mighell Report.  Check out Dennis and Tom’s book.  The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies.  Smart Ways to Work Together from ABA books or amazon.  And join us every other week for another edition of the Kennedy-Mighell Report only on The Legal Talk Network.

[Music]

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Episode Details
Published: July 31, 2020
Podcast: Kennedy-Mighell Report
Category: Legal Technology
Podcast
Kennedy-Mighell Report
Kennedy-Mighell Report

Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell talk the latest technology to improve services, client interactions, and workflow.

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