The rate of innovation adoption is ‘an attribute that can be altered through planning and effort‘ – Bill Henderson

For a while, I have struggled with how to get others as excited by new ideas as I get. I have second guessed myself, perhaps thinking I am too naïve or overly optimistic about innovations’ ability to improve the legal industry (and… the world!).

Then I heard Paul Naphtali from start up accelerator Rampersand speak at Start Up Grind Melbourne. Those in the start up scene are heavily affected by the whims of innovation adoption. He spoke about what Rampersand looks for when deciding if it will invest in a founder and their ideas. Paul said they look for pathological optimism paired with pathological paranoia.

Pathological optimism paired with pathological paranoia.

Okay. So I have the pathological optimism part, it was time for some pathological paranoia.


I don’t see paranoia as a negative. I am optimistic about becoming paranoid. The best paranoid persons are prepared with facts and stats to point out all the problems with ideas, so I started to research.

What could I do to explain ideas and innovations better? Are some ideas duds or was I not selling them in the right way? Of course some innovations are easier to get involved with than others. Some innovations involve “unsexy” tasks as Atul Gawande puts it in his Slow Ideas article for The New Yorker.

These are tasks that might need ‘painstaking effort without immediate reward’. Bill Henderson explored this concept further in relation to legal innovations on his excellent blog Legal Evolution.


The concept of slow, but valuable, innovation makes sense. Some examples of slow but valuable legal innovations:

Atul Gawande pointed out the value of one on one explanations and trust building. And, as he is a master at this, Gawande talks us through these concepts with wonderful storytelling that outlines the idea of the rule of seven touches.


Carolyn Thomas from @TheEthicalNag gives a great overview of the rule of seven touches. This principle basically outlines that you need to find seven positive ways to interact (or ‘touch’) someone before they’ll be ready to buy what you’re selling. I find this principle encouraging. It makes me feel like my pathological optimism will wear people down. Wear them down in an encouraging, friendly way, of course.

Taking a ‘door-to-door’ approach with legal innovation could be the ticket to impact.

To create new norms, you have to understand people’s existing norms and barriers to change. You have to understand what’s getting in their way – Atul Gawande

But when I go door to door, what am I selling?

Bruce Hardy, in The Psychology of Legal Innovation, advocates that there ‘are clear evidence based methods for creating the conditions for innovation’ (even for legal teams!). So, the answer is science.

Can the systematic application of evidenced based adoption enhancers help to increase adoptions rates? Let’s find out!





There are four key areas to research and test. I’ll try to harness these game-changing factors to increase the rate of adoption of legal innovation. Over the coming weeks, I will investigate the following adoption factors:

  1. increasing cultural compatibility
  2. reducing complexity
  3. running low-cost pilots and
  4. making the benefits of the innovation more observable.

What tips do you have for increasing legal innovation adoption?


💡 What do you think?

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