Lawyers are often afflicted by what some have called “analysis paralysis” and others simply call perfectionism. Lawyers are taught to spot issues, look for loopholes and seek out the weak or vulnerable parts of an argument, a document or a transaction. While this training may serve lawyers in some parts of their practices, it does not serve the lawyer as business owner or innovator.
Lawyers who run their firms run the risk of getting stuck and falling behind the competition if they give in to too much analysis paralysis and fall victim to the urge to make everything perfect before moving on. Nothing is, or is likely to ever be, perfect.
Entrepreneurship and innovation require an element of risk and a willingness to accept and learn from imperfection. In order to move forward in business and to find out what works in the marketplace, what potential clients respond to and what falls flat or does not produce results, lawyers need to be willing to let go.
To avoid getting stuck in that endless loop of continuing to ‘tweak’ or improve before rolling out a new procedure, plan, fee structure, or service, follow the 70% rule. Be aware that attaining 100% is unlikely, and focus instead on getting your project to 70%. Then introduce it, accepting its imperfection and recognizing that the best way to improve it is to expose and test it in the real world.
Think like software or technology companies: they roll out the product in ‘beta’ form, allow some testing, feedback and tweaking and then release version 1.2. The first version always has bugs or is missing something, but the company rolls out the product anyway, knowing that it will perform some functions well and that other functions need improvement. They may even learn of some features that they were unaware were important to their customers. If these companies had simply kept the product in-house without real-world testing, two things might have happened. First, another company might have introduced a similar product and beat them to the market, and second, they would have missed the opportunity to engage with their customers and learn what features, benefits or results their customers desired.
Lawyers, heed the 70% rule. Instead of waiting until you think your website is 100% perfect or your plan for alternative fees is guaranteed to make you more money than your current hourly system, get your project to 70%, take action and start getting feedback. Then you can improve from there, with the help of your clients. Maybe you will even be able to put that project behind you and move on to something new.