Jill Huse and Morgan Lewis co-authored the article “Playing the Game: Gamification in the Sphere of Law,” published in the Middle Tennessee Edition of Attorney at Law Magazine. Click here to view the article on their website.
For those who have attempted to cultivate business development habits for yourself or for the attorneys with whom you work, you can appreciate how difficult it is to monitor and measure accountability. The end result of a new client or new business from an existing client sounds great, but often it takes quite a bit of time and energy to achieve the desired result. As business development coaches, we werechallenged with the same predicament. We also found ourselves searching for a way to empower internal marketing and business development teams to continue the momentum generated from our coaching efforts after the official coaching program finishes. Firms invest a lot of resources into these programs that are meant to teach and encourage new habits, which must continue after the program concludes.
We set out to answer the following questions: How could we incentivize business development activities for short-term goals while we build habits that lead to the long-term goal of producing business? What tools could we leverage to allow business development teams to carry on the progress we spurred during the coaching program? How could we drive accountability and find a way to achieve buy-in?
The solution? Gamification.
The concept of gamification has been in existence for quite a while, but the idea of using it in a professional service context is relatively recent. In a nutshell, gamification combines action with competition and accountability using game design elements in non-game contexts to build engagement and confidence in a particular activity or field. The business of law has changed dramatically in the last two decades, introducing a host of new challenges and increased competition. To be profitable, firms will need to invest in the necessary tools and resources to aid and motivate their attorneys to develop new business.
By leveraging the competitive nature of many attorneys and incorporating the use of technology, Society 54 developed INhabit, a cloud-based gamification software that allows attorneys to compete with one another to meet self-selected goals. Utilizing a leaderboard provides data visualization, which is representative of an individual’s efforts, team efforts and enhanced tracking and reporting mechanisms.
INhabit encourages accountability from peer team members through activity tracking which is correlated to pre-assigned point values. As activities are completed, points are earned and teams are ranked. Teams often consist of individuals that span a range of ages, experience levels, offices and practices to encourage attorneys to learn about their teammates in a different context. This also creates “fairness” among teams. Similar to other gamification techniques, INhabit focuses on achieving goals by outlining outcomes, identifying behaviors, demonstrating progress and clearly defining success.
As a business development tool, gamification is unique – it can assist with each of these challenges in a way that provides additional incentives, direct and friendly competition and a visual representation of effort put forth through leaderboards. While the incentives and levels can vary for each firm, attorneys are also rewarded with “bragging rights,” which propels the competitive nature of many professionals. By using technology, firms are able to capture these activities in a holistic manner and show return on efforts. As we all know, business development can be a slow process, so being able to track efforts is crucial for retaining momentum and prompting follow-up opportunities.
As one may presume, there are multiple benefits to a gamification program like INhabit. First and foremost, building a book of business is the overall, long-term goal. This result is achieved through doing great legal work, as well as focused, targeted and habitual efforts to build business over a period of time. Short-term benefits include, improved relationships with colleagues and clients, increased awareness of the firm’s capabilities, increased cross-servicing within the firm, bringing awareness of dormant clients, improved collaboration and many more.
Firms that have incorporated INhabit into their business development efforts have reported double digit increases in revenue and an over 80 percent spike in cross-servicing clients through multiple practice areas. One particular large regional firm achieved 96 percent attorney participation and tracked over 9,000 business-building activities in only a four-month time frame!
Now that you know what gamification is as well as its potential benefits, some may be thinking that this sounds great – for associates and new partners. While the younger attorneys are early adopters of this concept and supporting technology, you may be surprised to learn that this model has gained momentum with even the most experienced attorneys. They have found that this is a great tool to strengthen key relationships, to mentor junior attorneys through leadership-by-example and to promote a cross-servicing culture – all while having fun. When a firm can adopt a gamification model, the potential for a culture-shift is created; a shift in which attorneys learn to develop business through habitual activities and enhance relationships within their firms.
Gamification is changing how the game is played and creating necessary accountability through fun and friendly competition. The challenge to your firm is to get in the game.