I just finished The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm at the recommendation of Dave Gray.  (See more of his recommendations here.  You cannot go wrong with any of his suggestions.)

While written in 2001, this book is still very relevant today.  As evidence, in the book, the authors discuss how they would improve the check-in and departure process at airports.  Virtually every recommendation they made in 2001 is in effect in airports now.

Little Improvements Matter

One important point in the book is that not all innovation is of industry-disrupting scale.   As an example of this, the authors discuss the JanSport backpack company.  When customers return backpacks for repair, the company mails out postcards stating:

“Hi! Warranty Service Camp is really cool.  They say they’re sending me home soon.  Gotta run… we’re doing zipper races today!”

While this is arguably very silly, JanSport reports that nearly all of the correspondence the company receives now consists of cheery thank-you notes rather than angry customer letters.

What one small thing could you do today to improve your law firm clients’ experience? 

End-Of-Project Awards

Here’s an idea from the book applied to the legal industry: end-of-project awards.  (I am not talking a lucite for your desk shelves.)  Imagine that at a closing dinner for a major deal, instead of just running up a big bar tab and making small talk, you awarded the various deal participants (lawyers, business people, etc.) in a way that makes light of a blunder or “cleverly captures the heart of an individual’s achievement.”  As an example, one of IDEO’s studio heads sent a reversed drawing to a tooler; “his award was a mirror on a plaque.”

End-of-project awards create a memorable experience and the clients go home with fun tchotchkes that will forever remind them of the positive experience of working on a deal with you.

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