Career Development

FAST TAKE: Doubling Down on Failure

The following is from the “2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market,” issued in January by The Center for the Legal Profession at Georgetown Law Center, The Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute and Peer Monitor:

It is not uncommon … for organizations of all kinds – including law firms – to remain committed to once successful strategies even as evidence mounts of their failure. It is what Karl Weick, of the University of Michigan, calls consensual neglect: the tendency of organizational decisions makers to tacitly ignore events that undermine their current strategy and double down on the initial decision in order to justify their prior actions. This phenomenon of “consensual neglect” seems a particularly apt description of the strategic posture of many (if not most) law firms in today’s rapidly changing market for legal services. Ignoring strong indicators that their old approaches … are no longer working, they choose to double down on their current strategies rather than risking the change that would be required to respond effectively to evolving market conditions. Like the French military in the 1930s, they are ready to fight the last war but, unfortunately, not to meet the challenges that are barreling toward them.

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