In America, it would be the beginning of a great, or more likely mediocre, joke. The other day it was the beginning of a four-hour workshop with a London law firm. I was helping Make Happy’s partner, Fiona Riley, as she tried to encourage these people to talk about the future of their business.
Despite my less than stellar typing abilities (I have always shunned the standard styles for a more freestyle approach), I occupied the role of stenographer for this workshop. At first I was worried about my ability to keep up with the fast-talking lawyers, but my skills proved adequate.
In America, after four hours in a room with ten lawyers, I would be in desperate need of a joke. But this was certainly not the case with this firm. These solicitors (as you call them) were full of personality and humour.
And yet, the brand message expressed on their website does not fully capture these strengths. A brand message, in my opinion, should be something the business can embrace, or better yet something they already embody.
For these lawyers, I think it may be their individual personalities. Personality was not only a commonly talked about theme; it was an innate part of the group dynamic.
Two comments I really liked, and wouldn’t normally associate with lawyers were:
People take their work seriously, but don’t take themselves too seriously.
All get on and are very friendly and appear to have lives outside of work.
But despite all the fun and humour, it was time to tackle a longer term view of their business, something that small legal firms who are focussed on client service have a tendency to overlook. Although it was encouraging that these lawyers were keen to take a more proactive stance, the follow through still remains to be seen.
Last time they had a workshop, in 2008, one Partner set the goal of making their firm an independent nation, recognized by the UN. There was also something about a lot of sheep. They have until 2018, but things aren’t looking too good so far on achieving this goal.
After the workshop, I finalised my notes and was able to add a bit of my own insight. This proved to be a great experience. The takeaway, for me at least, is something that I have also come across with Make Happy. Thinking and idea generation is only half the process, and not even the most important half. Everything beneficial comes out of the next step, the step where ideas actually get executed.
If I had taken this advice myself, the hundreds of stories that never made it out of my head, could be making me millions of dollars right this second. And I wouldn’t be an intern at Make Happy. Good thing I love it here.