How do you approach innovation?


This is the question we asked in a recent Crafty Counsel community meet-up.

What does it mean to be innovative and what creates the optimum environment for innovation?


Lani Beer, Innovator at King & Wood Mallesons, says for her it is important to always ask “How might we do things differently?” For her the key to innovation is not only having the right tools and frameworks, but also the right mindset.

Lani’s thoughts are backed up by the research done by American psychologist Carol Dweck decades ago. Dweck coined the phrase “growth mindset” which stands in contrast to “fixed mindset”.

Growth mindset is the belief that everything can be learned and that the brain is far more malleable than people may think it is. People who have a growth mindset see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and see their own mindset as a muscle that needs to be exercised, whereas a fixed mindset is the belief that what can be learned is finite and in a sense pre-determined.

An example of a fixed mindset is the idea that “I am bad at this, so may as well give up and do something I am good at.” In contrast, someone with a growth mindset would say “I am struggling with this, but with practice I will get better and if I persist I may even master this.”

Embracing a growth mindset means people are more likely to persevere even when things are difficult and seemingly impossible to learn, because of the underlying belief that with enough persistence anything can be learned. People with a fixed mindset are more likely to give up. Embracing a growth mindset means that people are less likely to fear failing as mistakes are part of the learning process.

For Arno Gloeckner, Assistant General Counsel – Global Contracts SPX Flow, it is important to let go of fear of failure and not to be scared of looking silly when you come up with something new as this blocks creativity.

For him the key to innovation is having fun.

Legal design specialist, Stefania Passera, teaches others new and innovative ways of doing things. She finds herself approaching things in her own life in quite a traditional way and feels there is more scope to leverage newer legal design tools. “I'm not using a lot of tech in my work,” she says.

For 10 years or so I've always been trying to help other people innovate. So it's difficult for me to know if I am being innovative, or how I'm doing things in an innovative way. I almost feel that I'm doing things in a very traditional way. - Stefania Passera 

Stefania featured in a Crafty Counsel video, in which she shares her legal design process for when she worked on Juro’s privacy policy.

Denis Potemkin, founder of Majoto, says constraints can help to get people to think in innovative ways. For him this happened when he worked in Italy with colleagues who spoke English as a second language.

After finding that Microsoft Word and emails were not the most effective way to communicate, he instead embraced spreadsheets and powerpoint to make use of visuals which helped him communicate more effectively with his colleagues.

Denis also shared that to unblock creativity and go back to the big picture, he finds getting away from his desk and a change of activity - especially exercise outdoors - as the most effective.

Some community members also shared that they found using the PechaKucha method for team events, a method designed by Japanese architects in 2003, effective. PechaKucha is about using visuals to tell your story in a structured way.

The participants each chose 20 images and each image flashes on a screen for 20 seconds in which the participants can tell that part of the story. This means that each participant gets 400 seconds to tell their story.

At Crafty Counsel one of the latest tools the team has embraced is using Miro boards regularly, which is a nifty interactive online white board system. Many a brainstorm session has now been committed to our Miro account and many more creative collabs are in the making. We love ourselves a good Miro session.

We would love to know the ways in which you have been innovative.

If you are a legal professional interested in joining the Crafty Counsel community - we hold regular community meet-ups aimed at in-house legal professionals. Crafty Counsel also has two meet-ups open to all legal professionals (Crafty Innovates is all about legal innovation and Crafty Reads is a monthly book club). You can apply to join here!

If you have any story ideas, have some questions on our content, general observations or just want to say hello please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can get in touch directly with our head of content - Renée Graham at renee@craftycounsel.co.uk