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We all suffer from a profound case of “Idea Surplus Disorder” at Filament — and we think that’s a good thing. Here are some of those ideas we’d like to share with you.

 

 
Posts in Retreats
The Seven Rules of Law Firm Retreats

Though Filament serves clients from multiple industries, our founder Matthew Homann is a “recovering” lawyer who got his start in this business building conferences and facilitating retreats for lawyers and firms. Several years ago, he wrote this about law firm retreats, so we decided to republish it here for our legal clients:

Rethinking your retreat begins with these seven rules:

1.  When planning a retreat, the most important voice at the table belongs to your best clients. Ask them how your firm needs to improve and invite them if you dare.

2.  At a good retreat, your firm's leadership should spend as much time listening as they do talking. At a great retreat, that ratio is closer to 3:1.

3.  If you don’t make time for your people to improve your firm during the retreat, they’re less likely to improve it after the retreat is over.

4.  The first things your attendees should learn are one another’s names. Attendees won’t care what their colleagues do until they know who they are.

5. If the retreat is the only time your people talk about innovation, it will be the only time they think about innovation. Same goes for client service.

6.  Your staff knows more about how to serve your clients well than your associates do. Bring them along, value their opinions and act on their suggestions. You’ll find that the cost of their attendance is far lower than the cost of their absence.

7.  The two questions every attendee should be able to answer after your retreat are: “Why should I be better?” and “What will I do better?”

You can check out Filament’s dedicated Law Firm Retreat Page to learn more about Filament’s legal-specific services or check out all of our legal-industry themed blog posts.

Rethinking the Practice of Law at Filament
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In mid-2017, Filament designed & hosted   law firm Bryan Cave's Business Academy for the second time. Law.com wrote about it here.

For six years, the firm has worked to cultivate a group of young lawyers who are prepared to confront trends in the industry that will impact their firm when they take over as partners. In 2013, the firm invited all its young associates to a two-day training session on the future of the business of law in St. Louis. Every other year since the firm has invited the same class of about 50 associates back to continue to learn how their business is changing.

The Bryan Cave Business Academy (BCBA) was just one of Filament's legal-focused engagements in 2017.  Others include an all-attorney retreat for Davis Wright Tremaine, TBD Law, and ILTACon.

If you're a lawyer or law firm trying to take your practice to the next level, contact us. We'd love to help!

Bring a Filament Focus Wall to Your Next Event
 
 

Trying to find another way to engage conference attendees while delivering a "wow" experience? A Filament Focus Wall (TM) is an entertaining, interactive experience for attendees to share their best ideas and learn from one another while giving organizers unique insights into what guests want and need from your event.

 
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A Filament Focus Wall gives attendees a unique visual experience where they can answer 4-8 big questions like “My biggest challenge is …” and “One thing I need to learn while I’m here is …” and then watch as Filament's artists draw their answers — often in creative or humorous ways.  Attendees come back again and again to the Focus Wall to see if their answer has been sketched and to read (and see) other attendees’ responses.

For the past three years, Filament has partnered with ILTA (a large legal innovation and technology conference) to create a Focus Walls that are becoming one of the attendees' favorite parts of the entire conference. 

If you're interested in a Filament Focus Wall for your next event, let us know. We'd be happy to help!

 
"We emerged aligned, with a clear strategic goal."

Filament worked with Purina to launch a new business strategy. Here's what the project sponsor, Pamela Jordan, had to say:

We engaged Filament to help us launch a new business strategy in a two-day meeting with executives, internal stakeholders, external consultants, and vendors. We emerged aligned, with a clear strategic goal and discrete action items for all involved.  It was a tremendous use of our time and resources.  We are recommending Filament to others in our organization who need to solve thorny challenges quickly in a unique, fun and collaborative way.

 

Easy, Hard or Expensive?
 
 

Looking for a simple framework to help you prioritize ideas in a group strategy session?  Try:  Easy, Hard or Expensive.

Easy ideas are simple and cheap, won't meet much resistance in your organization and don't require lots of approvals, meetings or arm-twistings to implement.

Hard ideas can seem simple or be cheap (in theory) but will also take lots of time, effort or organizational "heavy lifting" to get off the ground despite their relative lack of cost.

Expensive ideas can be either simple or hard but have the added baggage of being costly to pursue and implement.

Easy and Hard might be obvious categories, but why Expensive?  

Lots of time, people discount (no pun intended) great ideas because they might cost a lot of money -- substituting price as a proxy for effort -- before even exploring an ROI that could be sky-high. By making Expensive a separate category, ideas don't disappear and everyone has permission to think big.

Once you've got the ideas divided in each category, the top Easy ones get done right away.  The best Hard ones get planned and Expensive ones get budgeted.

By using Easy, Hard or Expensive, you'll get immediate action items out of your meeting and divide items worthy of more attention into things that take real work and those that just take money. 

 

Filament's Ten Rules of Retreats

Before you sit down to plan your company's next retreat, take a moment to think about what you'd really like to accomplish. Instead of defaulting to last year's agenda of terrible presentations followed by golf and booze, begin with a clean sheet of paper and design your event to get meaningful work done in a fun and unique way. Here are a few "rules" that might get you started:

1.  When planning a retreat, the most important voice at the table belongs to your best customers. Ask them what your business needs to improve upon in the coming year, and invite them if you dare.

2.  At a good retreat, your company's leadership should spend as much time listening as they do talking. At a great retreat, that ratio is closer to 3:1.

3.  It is far more important for you to think together at your next retreat than it is for you to drink together.

4.  If you don’t make time for your people to improve your company during the retreat, they’re less likely to improve it when the retreat is done.

5.  The first things your attendees should learn are one another’s names.  Familiarity builds collegiality. Attendees won’t care what their colleagues do until they know who they are.

6.  “Networking” cocktail parties don’t encourage company-wide collaboration as much as they encourage company-wide inebriation.

7.  If the retreat is the only time your people talk about marketing, it will be the only time they think about marketing. Same goes for client service.

8.  Your staff knows more about how to serve your customers well than your associates do. Bring them along, value their opinions and act on their suggestions. You’ll find that the cost of their attendance is far lower than the cost of their absence.

9.  The three questions every attendee should be able to answer after a retreat are: “What can I do better?” “Who should I know better?” and “Why should I be better?”

10.  The two costliest items at any retreat are the time and attention of the attendees.  Use them wisely.

If you're still struggling to plan that next retreat, give us a call. We'd be happy to help!