Why are contract managers and lawyers so bad at what they do?
On the Successful Workplace blog, Chris Taylor has asked ‘Why are marketers still awful at what they do?’
I could almost replicate Chris’s blog word for word, to ask the same about contract managers and lawyers. The point Chris is making is that, in spite of all the data and analytical tools now at our disposal, many marketers continue to operate blindly, firing out campaigns and offerings with no real idea of their impact or suitability to the target audience.
How true this is of most contracts, and the terms and practices that underpin them. How many contract managers or lawyers can actually explain the effect of specific terms or commercial policies on the market? Do they know how a particular approach to liabilities, liquidated damages, termination or price reduction will impact the behavior of their customers or suppliers – and consequently affect performance? Have they a sense of approaches that encourage and support loyalty, or those that destroy it?
Questions like this are just the tip of the iceberg, yet such information and insight is fundamental to competing in today’s environment. Trust and loyalty are valuable, yet they are eroding. Contract and relationship terms are fundamental ingredients in the mix of elements that generate trust and loyalty. Drawing from Chris Taylor’s blog: “Why isn’t Big Data changing our world in more visible ways? Why aren’t analytics being used to target the right messages to the right people?”
And adapting a little another of his comments, is this not true of the contracts and legal community? “Most contract managers and lawyers still haven’t figured out how to take advantage of data, technology and techniques that are readily available. For a variety of reasons, including investment in obsolete contracting models and platforms, poor understanding of analytics and Big Data, and overall inertia, contract managers and lawyers are struggling to catch up to the needs of the business or to understand what drives or motivates their customers or suppliers.”
A process and approach that is dominated by the narrow interests of several functional stakeholders will never grasp the wider needs of the market and will therefore not contribute to value, indeed may even undermine it. I will return to this theme with more specific ideas for improvement, but If Big Data is not on your strategic agenda, it really should be – unless you are happy to wait until senior managements starts to ask ‘Why are our contract managers and lawyers so awful at what they do?’