Friday, September 09, 2005

NASCAR, Parity, and Law Firms

"Parity" is a wonderful ideal for people dreaming of, "all things being equal." In NASCAR at every race the league officials are constantly tweaking with the rules and regulations in search of the perfect balance to equalize the capabilities of the cars on the track. And, at every race, the crew chiefs are looking for the golden loophole (almost never found) to give their car a definitive edge.

Yet, with all the emphasis on parity, every year the same drivers and teams leap to the front of the championship race, and other are eternally languishing far behind.

So what are the consistent winners doing to gain an edge where so many seek to make "all things equal?" The answers are a lesson for law firms.
  • Winners never gauge their decisions on what others are doing. The focus is on doing the best things for "this team"; not on hoping that others teams will dream up great ideas we can copy.
  • Winners nurture more than just a car and a driver. It's all of the people that keep a team running. Nurturing everyone in the organization produces excellence at every level whether its administrative support, truck drivers, or the kid working weekends to buff shop floors while the team is at the races.
  • Winners acknowledge reality. If the rules of enforced parity prohibit us from being any better at this one thing, then we shall hunt for other things we can excel at... But only after we are certain we are smack on perfect at the things controlled.
  • Winners are patient. Often the winning car starts the race in the worst shape. But a race is longer than one lap. Time and attention will win the day. Resignation to having a bad day is NEVER acceptable among winners.
  • Winners break a lot of things all the time. To simply push the boundaries of "good enough" produces knowledge untold.
  • Winners do not know the meaning of "status quo". You can tell me till you're blue in face that I am confined to being equal... But I am not going to believe you!
  • Winners fight to win a war. The battles only illustrate a trend.
There are so many lessons from so many legends in racing for law firms.

So what is the parity among law firms? Actually, the better question is; "What isn't an equalizing factor between law firms?" Every attorney has equal access to the knowledge required to provide counsel. Every law firm offers an equal amount of service potential subdivided only by breadth and geography.

The only true difference between law firms is the willingness and desire of it's people to set their own course, create their own challenges, and strive forward without regard to what any other law firm is attempting.

The only course out of "parity" is to STOP BEING THE SAME! Find and nurture your differences, and most of all, discover and nurture your people. There is not much that can withstand the assault of true believers on their march to success.