May 24, 2022
By Maurus SchreyvogelPage Reading Time: 2 minutes
A couple of weeks ago, I met with twelve outstanding #LegalOperationsProfessionals as part of the #CLOC Mentorship Monday program. Thank you Betsi Roach, Janice Carroll, and Nicole Zafian for considering me and for the perfect orchestration of that day.
The day went by very quickly and was an incredibly enriching experience! I was impressed by how well the participants were prepared for the sessions and surprised to conclude that all twelve discussions were quintessentially around the same three questions:
(1) How can I become an effective #ChangeAgent
(2) How much risk shall I take driving driving #change?
(3) Why is the person who hired me [GC / CLO] not supporting me more?
For those who are returning from #CGI2022 Las Vegas these questions likely sound familiar. Especially to those who were strong enough, and there were many, to attend the excellent closing session moderated by Jason Barnwell and with the fabulous Aine Lyons, Laura Richardson, and Wendy Rubas.
So here my learning from the mentorship sessions: When I became the operations person for #Novartis, I was so happy that I finally got the position that I always wanted, that stopped taking any risks. I was afraid that I could lose the position that I fought for so hard. Needless to say, that this did not work out well. Ideas, processes, and systems that I implemented were broadly ignored by the legal professionals that I tried to serve. An effective change agent needs to be bold, needs to inspire, needs to feel comfortable being wrong. And all that takes courage and at times it is risky. But hey, what is the worst that can happen? As long as you’ve prepared diligently, and gave it your best, I suggest not that much. That at least is my conclusion after being a #LegalOperator for over fifteen years. And yes, I started taking risks eventually and the reward has been spectacular. A big shout out to Shannon Thyme Klinger who taught me so much about leading change and who always encouraged me to be curious and bold, and who motivated me to be the best version of myself every day.
And what do we do with our GCs and CLOs that are not always supporting us? Remember, they hired us to improve and reimagine how legal services are provided, likely because they acknowledge that this is out of their comfort zone. So, it is on us to inspire them, educate them, and help them to be the convincing sponsor that we need on our side to be an effective change agent.
Thank you, dear mentees from the bottom of my heart for helping me to see clearer on the highly relevant topics that you raised during our sessions! Continue to be curious and bold…, and be kind. Then always remember, we are bringing new ideas and change to one of the oldest profession in the world, and there has been very little change for the last 2000 years about how we work. Change can be hard for those who are asked to adjust the way they work.
Author: Maurus Schreyvogel, Chief Legal Innovation Officer at Novartis International AG.