Can a Stable Company Really Be Innovative?

Aderant Think Tank

Can a Stable Company Really Be Innovative?

Two weeks ago, for the first time in our history, Aderant simultaneously hosted two customer conference events on different continents. In London, we held our annual Momentum EMEA Conference and in Newport, RI, we held the Aderant Redwood Analytics Conference. Both events were very well received and managed without a hitch. I say this not to toot our own horn, but because it caused me to reflect on Aderant’s maturity and the topic of organizational stability.

The Harvard Business Review published an essay titled How the Growth Outliers Do It, which presented the case that companies with consistent year-over-year growth shared two basic characteristics: stability and innovation. “Those characteristics may seem contradictory,” the essay espoused, “but stability appears to be what makes innovation—and steady growth—possible.”

The Harvard Business Review researchers concluded that stability creates a strong corporate culture and value system that allows room for experimentation, the exploration new ideas and market arenas:

Through our research we learned that the values, cultural norms, strategies, capabilities, customer relationships, and leadership of the growth outliers remain consistent over time. These organizations invest seriously in corporate values, which their leaders back up through meaningful symbolic actions. Within this stable context, however, a tremendous amount of experimentation and innovation occurs. Our conclusion is that this seeming paradox is a feature, not a bug: Stability is what enables these companies to innovate and to maintain steady growth.

In my opinion, stability takes on two important forms in this context—financial stability and leadership stability. Without financial stability and access to capital investment in product development, innovation becomes very challenging. Similarly, stability in leadership affords the longer-term view of the company direction to lead new initiatives that will require time to bear fruit. I am grateful that Aderant has consistent ownership and leadership for the past decade.

Finding that sweet spot where stability meets innovation is one of the reasons I think Aderant has been so successful over our 35-year history. In part due to consistent financial backing for the past ten years by private equity and a strong, consistent executive team, we’ve been able to stay on the cutting edge of the legal tech industry. In the past four years alone we have launched more than 30 products and vastly expanded our product development team.

But what does this mean for your firm specifically? As I look across our legal industry, I see ownership and leadership stability as a common hallmark. However, finding the resulting innovation leaders is not quite as apparent. I believe that the leading law firms possessing stability should realize it’s a blessing that can be leveraged into growth and innovation. Identify the innovators within your firm and provide them the stability that will support them as they bring new growth and opportunities to your firm.

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