A rad­i­cal new twist to Root Cause Analy­sis for kick start­ing and sus­tain­ing change in your legal team

How can Gen­er­al Coun­sel ensure that their efforts to devel­op and mod­ernise the legal team are not just short-term fix­es, but cre­ate a sus­tain­able path for long-term change? At Lex we have tak­en the tra­di­tion­al process of RCA and giv­en it our own twist. Read on to find out more….

The impor­tance of sus­tain­able change in legal teams

To become more effi­cient, legal teams need to trans­form. But being more agile, being adapt­able, embrac­ing inno­va­tion requires endur­ing change, not short-term fix­es. To cre­ate that endur­ing change, first it is vital to under­stand your legal team’s cur­rent real­i­ty (your as is” state, your future objec­tives, and the gap between the two) and then address the gaps iden­ti­fied in a sus­tain­able way. 

This means under­tak­ing a dis­cov­ery process to iden­ti­fy the gaps and their root causes. 

It’s impor­tant to go deep because root caus­es are often found in sur­pris­ing areas — not just process bot­tle­necks but also in siloed teams, poor com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and oth­er areas of organ­i­sa­tion­al complexity.

The deep­er you delve into the core issues pre­vent­ing effi­cien­cy and busi­ness growth, the more your legal team can make long-last­ing and sus­tain­able change. As the legal land­scape evolves, stay­ing adapt­able and resilient is not a nice-to-have; it’s a necessity.

GCs: Cat­a­lysts for sus­tain­able change

GCs play a unique role in intro­duc­ing trans­for­ma­tion in their legal team and lead­ing sus­tain­able change. 

One cru­cial shift is help­ing legal teams to make the shift from a reac­tive to a proac­tive approach. This is about cre­at­ing future-ready legal teams that do not mere­ly respond to legal issues as they arise, but are agile enough to work in a cul­ture of for­ward-think­ing and con­stant improve­ment. It’s about chang­ing the mind­set of the legal team from those who fire­flight to those who cre­ate val­ue for the busi­ness by always ensur­ing it is on the front foot. 

Where do you make a start in address­ing this?

Root Cause Analy­sis (RCA) and its significance

A tra­di­tion­al method for under­stand­ing and elim­i­nat­ing inef­fi­cien­cies is a Root Cause Analy­sis. A potent prob­lem-solv­ing tech­nique, RCA fol­lows a sys­tem­at­ic and struc­tured approach that aids informed deci­sion-mak­ing and tar­get­ed solu­tions. This is achieved by uncov­er­ing the fun­da­men­tal issues under­ly­ing sur­face-lev­el symptoms. 

Data col­lec­tion, iden­ti­fy­ing con­tribut­ing fac­tors, analysing rela­tion­ships between caus­es and effects, and reach­ing evi­dence-based con­clu­sions are some typ­i­cal tasks in this method. RCA ensures a com­pre­hen­sive under­stand­ing of all the issues and chal­lenges at play. 

Because RCA relies on data and evi­dence instead of assump­tions or per­son­al opin­ions, you can use quan­ti­ta­tive and qual­i­ta­tive data from var­i­ous sources — such as case stud­ies, met­rics, feed­back, and per­for­mance indi­ca­tors — to draw mean­ing­ful insights.

Many chal­lenges faced by legal teams tend to recur. RCA breaks this cycle by address­ing the core issues respon­si­ble for the rep­e­ti­tion, pre­vent­ing the need for con­tin­u­ous firefighting.

What fol­lows are some typ­i­cal sce­nar­ios fac­ing the legal teams today with chal­lenges and the solu­tions that can be uncov­ered with RCA.

Inef­fi­cient knowl­edge sharing

Chal­lenge: Lim­it­ed knowl­edge shar­ing and siloed infor­ma­tion which impairs col­lab­o­ra­tion across departments. 

Solu­tion: Cre­at­ing a knowl­edge-shar­ing cul­ture and imple­ment­ing tools for cen­tralised doc­u­ment man­age­ment. This breaks down bar­ri­ers and encour­ages cross-func­tion­al communication.

Risk man­age­ment gaps

Chal­lenge: Inad­e­quate risk assess­ment and man­age­ment prac­tices which expose a busi­ness to legal lia­bil­i­ties and com­pli­ance issues. 

Solu­tion: Ensur­ing the legal team must proac­tive­ly iden­ti­fy and mit­i­gate risks, lever­ag­ing data-dri­ven insights and indus­try best prac­tices to bol­ster risk resilience.

Man­ag­ing work­load volumes

Chal­lenge: Legal teams who strug­gle to effi­cient­ly man­age high vol­umes of cas­es, con­tracts, or legal requests. 

Solu­tion: Pri­ori­tis­ing tasks, set­ting real­is­tic time­lines, and imple­ment­ing legal automa­tion that alle­vi­ates work­load pres­sure and improves team productivity.

Con­duct­ing a Root Cause Analysis

RCA typ­i­cal­ly involves:

  • Defin­ing the prob­lem in a clear and spe­cif­ic way (what is the process and where does it miss the mark).

  • Pri­ori­tis­ing root caus­es to focus on sig­nif­i­cant fac­tors with action­able solutions.

  • Gath­er­ing data from var­i­ous sources.

  • Cre­at­ing a high lev­el roadmap of solu­tions over time — focussing first on fea­si­ble quick wins and build­ing from there.

  • Using analy­sis tools such as fish­bone dia­gram tech­niques or 5 Whys to drill down and visu­alise rela­tion­ships between factors.

  • Cre­at­ing team align­ment (a rela­tion­ship sys­tem) to ensure a strong foun­da­tion for this and future stages.

  • Analysing con­tribut­ing fac­tors such as human errors, pro­ce­dur­al gaps, and exter­nal influences.

  • Draw­ing con­clu­sions based on evi­dence and data.

So, how does RCA fit into the Lex Way?

RCA can iden­ti­fy prob­lems and teach us how to fix them. But at Lex­So­lu­tions, we believe in a deep­er dis­cov­ery process that does the following:

Align­ing on pur­pose: with­out an under­stand­ing of the pur­pose behind the work being done, it’s hard to have aligned objec­tives. Pur­pose is the foun­da­tion on which every­thing else is built.

Under­stand­ing objec­tives and suc­cess fac­tors: we can fix prob­lems in a bet­ter and smarter way, and improve our chances of suc­cess if there are clear objec­tives and we know what suc­cess looks like.

Cre­at­ing team align­ment: prob­lems are fixed by teams, not indi­vid­u­als, so cre­at­ing good team align­ment and pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship sys­tem is anoth­er foun­da­tion­al part of our dis­cov­ery process.

Devel­op­ing cre­ative solu­tions: under­stand­ing root cause must be matched with cre­ative solu­tion­ing. Some­times solu­tions lie in sur­pris­ing places.

Pri­ori­ti­sa­tion: legal teams will face a mul­ti­tude of prob­lems and pos­si­ble solu­tions. It’s crit­i­cal to pri­ori­tise those with­in the over­all con­text of objec­tives, needs and avail­able resources. This forms the foun­da­tion for a sus­tain­able roadmap of change.

A good dis­cov­ery process lies at the heart of dri­ving last­ing change. When you can focus on the con­text, the users and the root caus­es, you instinc­tive­ly fos­ter a cul­ture of con­stant learn­ing and improve­ment. Your legal team gains valu­able insights and knowl­edge for future prob­lem-solv­ing — with a clear direc­tion. The process helps elim­i­nate guess­work and ensures your team is active­ly address­ing the most crit­i­cal matters.

The Lex Way for Legal Teams com­bines RCA and oth­er process improve­ment tech­niques with design think­ing and rela­tion­ship sys­tem coach­ing for a holis­tic, high­ly cre­ative, engag­ing approach to solv­ing prob­lems and trans­form­ing teams.

Engag­ing the legal team in the dis­cov­ery process

Suc­cess­ful dis­cov­ery requires active par­tic­i­pa­tion from the entire legal team. 

To encour­age engage­ment, con­sid­er organ­is­ing brain­storm­ing ses­sions where every­one can open­ly dis­cuss chal­lenges and poten­tial root caus­es. By lever­ag­ing diverse per­spec­tives, you can cul­ti­vate a rich pool of mean­ing­ful insights and iden­ti­fy the prob­lems faster. 

At Lex­So­lu­tions, we run our ini­tial dis­cov­ery work­shops as struc­tured ses­sions for legal teams to help gain col­lab­o­ra­tion, cre­ativ­i­ty and clar­i­ty around these insights. These ses­sions are built around three mile­stones to take your legal team to align­ment and optimisation:

Cal­i­brate. The dis­cov­ery process as detailed in this blog gives you a deep­er under­stand­ing with­in your team of where you are, where you want to be, and the bar­ri­ers to get­ting there. 

For­mu­late. Defin­ing the pos­si­ble solu­tions to get you to your future desired state and build a roadmap to get­ting there. When you work with Lex, we will deep dive into solu­tions and help you pri­ori­tise based on resources and impact. We will build a detailed roadmap and sprints to get to your future state. 

Catal­yse: Where the rub­ber meets the road. We’ll help you to exe­cute your roadmap using the pow­er of Lex­So­lu­tions, where we can do the heavy lift­ing, pro­vide light touch guid­ance or even addi­tion­al legal resources. We also design and build spe­cif­ic solution(s) through an iter­a­tive agile process.

Help­ing legal teams with sus­tain­able change The Lex Way 

At Lex we have tak­en the tra­di­tion­al process of RCA and giv­en it our own twist. Armed with insights from our ini­tial Lex Cal­i­brate ses­sion, legal teams can imple­ment tar­get­ed solu­tions and address under­ly­ing issues at their core. A proac­tive and solu­tion-ori­ent­ed approach allows all stake­hold­ers to become cat­a­lysts for trans­for­ma­tive change, dri­ving con­tin­u­ous progress and adding val­ue to the legal team and the busi­ness as a whole.

What­ev­er chal­lenges your legal team faces, we will work with you to bring our unique com­bi­na­tion of design-think­ing, sys­tems coach­ing and a spir­it of curios­i­ty and inno­va­tion to help you solve them. Your peo­ple are the prism through which we view every­thing, so you can guar­an­tee we will bring them along on the journey.

Con­tact Manu Kan­war and Denis Potemkin to find out how the Lex Way could work for your legal team.

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Further reading