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June 2019 was nothing short of an epic month. Though not just because of the usual end of financial year madness that work always brings. I was privileged to be invited to speak at the Legal Innovation & Technology conferences in Johannesburg and Sydney so amongst the usual things I also spent quite a bit of time collecting my thoughts to prepare for my presentations. And I must admit I really struggled with one of the topics initially. I had three sessions to deliver, two of which were practical topics on what I am doing with my team to work through legal challenges our business faces. The first though was the keynote address to open the conference: “Re-defining the value of lawyers in a world rife with disruption”. How do us lawyers define our value?

With every industry conference being laden with AI and tech talk, and research papers telling us all how lawyers are among the top professions that won’t exist in the future, really, it can be easy to think we must somehow all jump on the tech bandwagon to remain relevant and continue to be valued as lawyers. But tech is just a tool. An enabler for better solving a problem.

And then amongst my brainstorming, I had a moment of clarity. During a board strategy session I attended earlier in the year, I was struck by discussions around building trust amongst board directors to foster a positive decision-making culture. We were presented with the Trust Equation, coined in the book, “The Trusted Advisor”. And all of a sudden it became clear to me. All of us, not just lawyers, in our professional worlds should be guided in our behaviours, actions and deliverables by the simple but often lost principle of trust. In an objective, standardised, and measurable way proffered by the variables that make up the Trust Equation.

It sounds trite, obvious and perhaps even elementary. But if you look at the equation, and think deeply about what we all do in our day to day, how much of what we do is really focused on each of those pillars: Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy? Too often we are busy being focused on the Self variable in the equation.

And if you haven’t already, say hello to VUCA. This is the moniker for our current world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.  And in a VUCA world, trust matters more than ever. Because if we’re gravely ill, we don’t choose a medical specialist based on how cheap they are or how fancy their AI or tech is; we choose someone we trust to navigate everything that is VUCA about our situation.

If you’re interested to hear about how the Trust Equation can be applied to lawyering (or in fact any other advisory capacity), you can watch or listen to my keynote in Johannesburg -> HERE <-. I have also made available my second presentation on how teams can drive business transformation and my experience with enterprise projects delivered by my team.

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