I just spent the weekend facilitating a law firm retreat with 100+ partners and associates. One of the goals of the retreat was to generate new ideas on better ways to increase firm revenue (without raising rates). We came up with dozens of good, actionable ideas that will percolate through the firm and turn into specific action plans for each practice group and individual lawyer.
One thing we didn’t do — but that I’ll be suggesting in short order — was to “gamify” the revenue generation goal. This article on gamification in Computer World talks about how a company used game theory to encourage employees to work out more in the company gym:
For example, Charlie Kim, CEO of NextJump, wanted to encourage his employees to use the corporate gym because he felt it would better their health and lead to improved productivity and a happier workforce. NextJump began by offering a $20,000 reward to the five employees who used the gym the most in one year. The incentive program boosted gym use from about 3% of the workforce to 12%.
Then Kim made a game of it, and challenged teams of employees to hit the gym with the promise that they would split the same $20,000 pot. The social value in being on the best team raised the number of employees using the gym to 85%, Zichermann said.
For a firm with multiple practice groups, perhaps the best method to drive behavior change is to stop rewarding individual lawyers for increasing their business, but rather to collectively reward the practice groups (or client teams) with a common incentive. Driving group behavior through a team-based reward — whether it is based on revenue generated or client service scores — could build a more collegial workplace and deliver real benefits to firms and clients.