Last autumn, Fondia was recognised as a top-2 European Game Changer. It was the tenth anniversary of Financial Times’ distinguished FT Innovative Lawyers Awards , which is the only competition to rank law firms by innovation. I was really proud of the Fondia team because game changing is exactly what Fondia is about.
When I founded Fondia twelve years ago, I was thrilled by the realisation that it could be possible to innovate something in the traditional, conservative business of law. I was a young lawyer equipped with only a couple of years of work experience from an attorneys-at-law office and a banking firm. However, by that point, I had already understood that adhering to principles set out some hundred years ago was an unwritten rule in the legal industry. I felt like all the brilliant young lawyers aimed to win the respect of the old partners by doing things the old way – instead of becoming better by bringing something new to the table.
Entrepreneurs sometimes joke that the best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can finally respect your boss. I don’t know about respect, but I myself set out to make the most of the entrepreneurial freedom. Freedom is one of the most important values for me, including the freedom to challenge and create better things every day. The mere idea of being locked up in an organisation that would not encourage – or even worse – allow creativity and redesign makes me shiver. Luckily enough, the people at Fondia have been practising the brave redesign approach since the very beginning, and I feel confident in saying that after 12 years of trial and error, we could be certified as a ‘dare to create’ company.
It’s not easy to dare to create; at least not every day. It requires you to get over your own laziness of mind, sceptical comments from colleagues in the market, and challenging questions from family and relatives. Still, perhaps the biggest challenge is to overcome your own insecurities. Why risk failing when one can earn good money in the legal industry by following the well-trodden path?
One of our belawed customers, SuperCell , is renowned for celebrating failure. Daring to create involves accepting the fact that not everything you create will be wonderful. But playing it safe is not an option – in any industry – if a firm intends to survive nowadays. Everything that seems futuristic and unnecessary at first will in hindsight seem only too self-evident once developed into a commercially successful product or service. Who could possibly long for weaving machines, when there are so many skilled weavers available? Why would anyone need a mobile phone, when you can survive perfectly well by sharing the home phone with three teenage daughters and use an answering machine for taking messages when you are out? And why in heaven would customers want a smart lawyer-in-your-pocket solution when you can easily reach your attorney by phone or email?
Because pioneering firms will dare to create new things together with their bravest customers. They will redesign and improve their solutions day after day until their creation is rock solid. And on that day, other customers will follow suit. And some brave firms will eventually hit the big time because they systematically cultivated three magic words. Yes, we can .