More on lawyers and innovation

Here are two bonus links following on from yesterday’s post.

From Tim Corcoran: Galileo Was Wrong: The Earth Revolves Around Lawyers.

On a number of occasions where we gathered with the board or executive team of an acquisition target in a secret location to discuss a business combination, we always invited the lawyers because there were items on the checklist that only they could handle. But they otherwise didn’t speak much. When outside lawyers were invited, they sat next to the in-house lawyers and spoke even less. Again, none of this is meant to demean the important role lawyers play in doing deals, but the point is they were there to identify and quantify risks in executing the deal so the business people could incorporate this into the financials, or choose to build versus buy if the risk was too great. We never asked for a go/no-go decision, and we didn’t ask for exhaustive explanations of the legal issues in play. We asked about the obstacles, the techniques to overcome the obstacles, and the cost of doing so — and not the legal cost, i.e., the legal bills, but the cost to proceed. For example, I wouldn’t want to know how much the law firm will charge to counsel us on new regulations; I wanted to know how complying with new regulations would impact the cash flow projections. Again, the point is, on the business side we rarely think of things in legal terms, but in terms of how legal issues impact our ability to proceed.

In point of fact, the earth does not revolve around the lawyers.

From Christopher Fahey: Innovation, Transformation, Therapy, Practice (via Scott Berkun).

The conversations around innovation over the past few years have in large part focused on producing innovation where it does not exist. It hasn’t been about innovation itself, but rather about cultivating innovation. It’s been about transforming groups of people who, without clever and forward-thinking leadership, would utterly fail to innovate. The literature, then, is aimed at people who fancy themselves as that same clever and forward-thinking leader.

To those of us whose everyday job is to innovate — e.g., designers — the hype around “innovation” has always seemed a little weird. As if not innovating has ever been an option for a designer. We do this all the time!

So what Nussbaum and the innovation cheerleaders have been talking about all along has not been about how innovative people can be more innovative. It’s been about how to take teams that cannot or will not innovate and getting them to actually come up with new ideas.

Perhaps we can only hope to create better bricklayers.