Thank you for helping me subject my concept to practical scrutiny. Because your time is limited, here's the essence of my idea, and the questions to which I'd welcome your candid replies.
Let’s start by making sure I’m looking at the problem the right way.
All firms recognize the need to have more lawyers bringing in business, but when it comes to biz dev training, they seem to struggle with three problems:
- Training and coaching can be expensive, and firms can’t afford to provide it to all their lawyers
- There’s no reliable way to predict which lawyers will be good training investments
- Whatever way the training resource gets allocated, lawyers who wanted it but were excluded will feel slighted
Questions to discuss
To what degree have I described the problem accurately?
How would you modify the description?
How do you choose which lawyers to train now?
Throughout your career, what percentage of the lawyers chosen for investment have shown seriousness of purpose and have stuck with the training?
How significant a problem is this? On a 1-10 scale, with “Complain about it over drinks” at one, and “Serious enough impact to warrant action and investment” at ten, where does this fall?
The only practical option is to improve the firm’s ability to identify performers and invest only in them, and do it in a way that’s viewed as objective enough that it doesn’t trigger the “why not me” reaction by those excluded.
I think I’ve come up with a way for firms to invest only in lawyers who will perform, without having to predict performance, and without triggering the “why not me” reaction by those excluded.
The answer is a behavior-based approach by which lawyers qualify or disqualify themselves for training investment based on what they actually do, rather than what you think they’ll do or what they claim they’ll do.
Skill development is a three-part mission:
- Education: Knowledge transfer. Produces intellectual impact, e.g., awareness, understanding, attitude change
- Training: The actual doing and practicing BD in a virtual world. Produces measurable skills
- Coaching: Guidance to apply skills learned via Training. Feedback, adjustment. Produces tangible results.
Each higher rung on the Training Ladder uses progressively more expensive resources. Lawyers gain access one of two ways:
- Permanent: Complete the “graduation” requirements the firm assigns to the current level
- Temporary: Have an imminent real-world opportunity that requires support from a higher-level resource. For example, Joe has made only modest progress on the Education rung, but is going to a networking event next week. To maximize Joe’s chances of producing a worthwhile outcome at that event, the firm would grant him access to the Networking Event simulation from the Training segment and, once he’s completed that, a short coaching session to help him apply what he learned to this specific event. After that, Joe reverts to back to the Education stage to complete those requirements.
First Rung: Education
Curated Library of marketing/sales content, e.g., articles, white papers, podcasts, blog posts, etc.
- Available to everyone via sign-in
- Measurable consumption, activity. The graphic below shows a crude representation of some of many things firms might choose to measure, e.g., frequency, volume, intervals, etc.
- Each piece of content has a quiz associated with it. (Optional; enable or disable)
- Quiz automatically arrives [10?] days after the content has been accessed. Lawyer has infinite amount of time to complete it
- No electronic or human nagging. The goal isn't to pressure lawyers to consume content or complete quizzes. It's to allow lawyers to demonstrate seriousness of purpose and commitment, and prove themselves investment-worthy.
- Graphic, color coded to allow at-a-glance grasp of overall activity volume, progress. Perhaps use green (invest)-to-red (don’t invest) spectrum to portray status
- Click through to individual status reports, color-coordinated to enable at-a-glance understanding.
- Mobile accessible
Content consumption history
- Current status
- Name of selected content
- Date chosen
- Last access date
- Quiz status: score if complete; incomplete
- Progress: “You’ve completed ___% of the graduation criteria to enable access to the interactive training (link to examples)
Graduate to Next Investment Level: Training
- Firm sets the consumption threshold to “graduate”
- System alerts management, lawyer: “earned next level of training”
Lawyers are in complete control of their eligibility for further training investment at any time. No need to monitor it. When they hit the threshold, they progress. If they don’t, they don’t. No pushing; merely monitoring/reporting their progress or lack. No need to say "no" to anyone. Merely provide the criteria for "yes" and the opportunity to satisfy it.
Second Rung: Skills Training
Interactive simulations in which lawyers learn the skill from within a virtual scenario.
- They manage an avatar through a series of “say/do” decisions as they progress through the challenge.
- For each decision, they get video coaching that explains why that is or isn’t the optimal choice.
- Each simulation also features two auxiliary modes:
- Practice Mode: In just five minutes, just before they apply the skill in the real world, they refresh what they learned previously.
- Ready Mode: A skill-validation tool that lets lawyers test the degree to which they’ve internalized the skill they learned, and whether it’s available to them on demand in the real world.
Video lessons with drag-and-drop quizzes embedded. For narrower topics that don’t lend themselves to the degree of dialog and interaction offered in the simulations.
Ad Hoc Courses
- Just-in-time courses for lawyers to prepare for imminent real-world activity, e.g., networking events, article-writing, public speaking, prospect meetings, pricing conversations, etc.
- The firm purchases a modest inventory of courses and grants access to them one at a time as needed. Managed by the Marketing/BD department, whom we train to use the system.
- View performance of entire firm, groups, teams, or individuals
- Library access: $10 per lawyer
- Graduation fee: $25 per graduate (Based on my 25 years of experience, I project that a maximum of 20% of lawyers will graduate.)
- Ad hoc courses: $40 each
Request a private worksheet, which enables you to evaluate cost for your firm by modifying any combination of four variables to create different usage- and investment scenarios. Because of the high percentage of fallout from the Education level to the Training level, the resulting investment will average well under $100 per lawyer, across the firm. For that, the firm will have accomplished three goals:
- Educate all who are willing
- Train all who are willing
- Identify the lawyers who are the best candidates for Coaching